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At last a bit of well good news.. (sort of).

My voting experience was calm and we had no problems at all.

Living out in Glen Lorne - Harare East, I avoided the long queue of nearly
a kilometre long and decided to get up early on Sunday to avoid the rush.
Our polling booth was placed opposite a satellite police station and
central to most in our area.

Having braved the early morning chill I arrived at the station with only a
few cold people in front of me. We watched as the polling officers had a
quiet meeting and ensured the ballot box was untouched. The polling station
was then opened and we all quietly went into the station and proceeded in
our voting.

The officers were cheerful, friendly and very helpful. My husband went to
vote at 9 am, to find there was no queue and he had the same service.
People who had been in the queue the day before were treated the same and
although the queue was very long everyone seemed to be in good humour and
general conversations were cheerful.

I personally was very impressed with the efficiency of the polling station
and I was very glad that there was no violence or intimidation in our area.

Now we await the results and hope...

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Sent to us today (Sunday) by J L.   We hear (several phone
to Zim. today) that the voting numbers are huge and so far the voting has
been orderly.   D and J have a voting station on their farm and
is well.   The feeling is that people are sending a message with their
Please let the message be the just one!   All we have spoken to are v. v.
concerned about the days immediately following the election results.  

Thought you would find this very interesting - from a friend who is a
widow and farming near Mutare ... some insight into what is happening.


Subject: Saturday 24th

Dear All
Just a brief note. All seems quiet at this end of the country, and C
said it was quiet with them as well. At about 7.30 S and I went to
Penhalonga just outside the Post Office where a large tent had been set up
as a polling station. There were about 50 people ahead of us and everyone
was most uncharacteristically subdued and quiet. It was as though they did
not want to be seen actually talking or smiling, not just to us but to
other as well. It took about an hour and while we were waiting first a 323
came in with EU stickers over it and three observers,and then an
pair in a Land Cruiser flying a flag. The EU people were very formally
dressed in suits and ties, frightfully correct, not meeting any voter's
eyes,  and only talked to the Police and election officials. The Aussies
were much more casual in both dress and manner, and I was delighted when
they were watching as Simon and I went in to vote, and I had a word with
them afterwards. First the ultra violet light, then one's name was checked
and you dipped both hands into the revolting smelly fluid, top and bottom
fingers, and finally you were given the voting form. The form was rather
misleading and may lead to spoilt papers as across the page there was
the name of each candidate, then a photo of him/her (or a gap if none)
the party symbol, then the place for one's X. As only the ruling party
candidate had a photo, and therefore only one space for an X, the other
three may well be at a disadvantage specially with some of the older
I watched one elderly woman battling to work out how to put her paper into
the ballot box.
J and G G (who were ahead of us in the queue) had suggested a
couple of days ago that we should all go to La Rochelle for breakfast
afterwards. J phoned D and S H to say we would be late,
be told it would be wonderful to see us and we could have breakfast any
we liked We would be the first people they had had at the hotel for three
days. Five handscrubbing sessions later ( the slightly sour smell was
there even then) we had an excellent breakfast and all went home. Just now
am going over to Yardley and then into Mutare to the Portuguese Club with
S to meet up with the G's once again for piri piri chicken, then
to Yardley to watch 'proper' TV- BBC seems the best cover.
We are told the votes will be counted from 8pm tomorrow night and the
results will be out on Monday. All we can do now is pray.
Much love - S
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Observers say Zimbabwe election unfair - CBC Mon Jun 26 00:17:37 2000
ZANU-PF says Mugabe won't lose power - CBC Sun Jun 25 18:19:18 2000 ET
Zimbabwe's Bloody Campaign - Washington Post - Thursday , June 22, 2000 ; A24
Observers say Zimbabwe election unfair
WebPosted Mon Jun 26 00:17:37 2000

HARARE - Votes are still being counted after Zimbabwe's weekend parliamentary elections, but some international observers have already dismissed the entire process as grossly undemocratic.

"The term 'free and fair elections' is not applicable in these elections," according to Pierre Schori, the head of the European Union team that monitored the two-day vote.

"The level of violence and intimidation in the pre-election phase makes the term not applicable," he told a news conference late Sunday.

Although voting appeared to go ahead peacefully Saturday and Sunday, there were long line-ups and reports of threats by militants supporting the ruling ZANU-PF party.

Schori accused both the government and ZANU-PF of preventing international observers from doing their job.

He also blamed the ruling party for most of the violence during the campaign. At least 30 people have been killed over the past few months.

More than half of the 5.1 million registered voters cast ballots to choose 120 members in the 150-seat parliament. The other 30 members will be directly appointed by President Robert Mugabe.

Final results are not expected until Tuesday or Wednesday.

Mugabe himself is not up for re-election until 2002. But the president appears to have already set the stage for another showdown with the country's opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

A senior official with ZANU-PF has already said that "there will be no change in government" regardless of the election results.

The ruling party is facing its biggest challenge since Zimbabwe won independence in 1980.

ZANU-PF's national chairman, John Nkomo, said at a news conference that "ZANU-PF will form the government whatever the results. There will be no opposition in government." He told reporters, "Mugabe is an institution."

In order to wrest control from ZANU-PF, MDC would have to win at least 76 of the 120 seats — a tall order for an opposition movement that is little more than a year old.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Sunday he isn't bothered by the governing party's assertions. "Mugabe is history. There is life beyond Mugabe."

Campaign violence has not been the only problem gripping Zimbabwe recently. Some white farmers have been murdered by blacks demanding to reclaim land they insist is theirs. And an economic downturn has left both inflation and the unemployment rate hovering around 60 per cent.

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ZANU-PF says Mugabe won't lose power
WebPosted Sun Jun 25 18:19:18 2000 ET

HARARE - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has set the stage for another showdown with the country's opposition, after a senior official in his party said no matter what happens in the parliamentary elections, "there will be no change in government."

Mugabe's ZANU-PF party is facing its biggest challenge in 20 years of rule from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Since independence in 1980, ZANU-PF has enjoyed unbroken rule. That could all change after the results of this weekend's voting are counted on Monday.

More than 5 million Zimbabweans are eligible to vote in the election, which will choose 120 members of the 150-member parliament. The other 30 members are directly appointed by Mugabe.

Mugabe himself is not up for re-election until 2002.

ZANU-PF's national chairman, John Nkomo, said at a news conference that "ZANU-PF will form the government whatever the results. There will be no opposition in government." He told reporters, "Mugabe is an institution."

In order to wrest control from ZANU-PF, MDC would have to win at least 76 of the 120 seats - a tall order for the opposition movement, which is little more than a year old.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Sunday he isn't bothered by the governing party's assertions. "Mugabe is history. There is life beyond Mugabe."

Reports say lineups at the polling stations across Zimbabwe were much lighter on Sunday, than on the first day of voting. A spokesman for the European Union election monitors said the voting had been carried out under largely peaceful conditions. Pierre Schori said there had been " a few exceptions of intimidation and violence."

The peacefulness of the vote is a sharp contrast to the election campaign. At least 30 people died in campaign-related violence, most of them opposition supporters.

Zimbabwe has also been gripped by the invasion and occupation of some white-owned farms, and the economic downturn which has left both inflation and the unemployment numbers hovering at 60 per cent.

The final result of the vote could be announced Tuesday or Wednesday.

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Zimbabwe's Bloody Campaign

Washington Post - Thursday , June 22, 2000 ; A24

THE VIOLENCE goes on in Zimbabwe, where elections for a new parliament are to take place this weekend. Last Sunday a mob from President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front attacked the home of Margaret Dongo, one of three opposition members of the current parliament. For 30 minutes, Ms. Dongo hid under a table as her home was pelted with bricks and rocks. Fortunately, she survived, unlike some 30 other Zimbabweans killed in anti-opposition attacks orchestrated by Mr. Mugabe's party since February, when constitutional amendments supported by the president were voted down by the people. Yesterday Mr. Mugabe escalated tensions by urging his supporters to strike back "with an ax" if attacked.

After 20 years in power, Mr. Mugabe has run out of ideas for salvaging Zimbabwe's increasingly troubled economy. So he has seized on a legitimate issue--the continuing concentration of land ownership in the hands of a few thousand whites--and turned it into a demagogic rallying point. Defying a court order, he has dispatched thugs around the country to "occupy" 1,400 of Zimbabwe's 4,500 white-owned farms, and sometimes to beat or kill blacks who work on them. Mr. Mugabe has refused to admit a European Union-sponsored delegation of 17 Kenyan and Nigerian election observers, labeling them secret British agents. He has also barred international nongovernmental election observer organizations, such as the U.S.-based National Democratic Institute. Inconveniently for Mr. Mugabe, the institute determined that the violence, combined with Mr. Mugabe's control of the media and potential fiddling with voter registration rolls, will render the voting much less than free and fair.

Nevertheless, the opposition, led by the broad-based Movement for Democratic Change, persists. The results of last February's referendum demonstrated that a majority of the country is looking for a democratic alternative to Mr. Mugabe. The movement's leaders correctly perceive that even this highly flawed process is better than none--and that as long as the voting and the vote count are subject to at least some independent scrutiny, they could gain dozens of seats in parliament. Barring a post-election coup by Mr. Mugabe, he may well have to deal with an independent opposition in parliament for the first time. Such an outcome would be a major victory for democracy in Africa, one made possible by thousands of ordinary Zimbabweans who refuse to be beaten into submission.

© 2000 The Washington Post Company
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Sunday, 25 June, 2000, 11:57 GMT 12:57 UK -BBC
              Zimbabwe poll result

Some voters waited in line for three hours to cast their
              A senior member of the Zimbabwean
              Government says President Robert Mugabe's
              ruling party, Zanu-PF, will stay in power
              whether or not it wins the election.

              As voting went into the final day, party
              chairman Mr John Nkomo said the country's
              constitutional system allowed the president to
              choose his cabinet as he saw fit.

              He said the opposition Movement for
              Democratic Change (MDC) would not achieve
              the two-thirds majority it needed to block
              presidential decisions.

              For a second day running long queues have
              formed outside polling booths and voting has
              continued to run smoothly despite a campaign
              marred by violence.

              Thirty people, mostly
              from the opposition
              MDC, were killed and
              there were reports of

              The issue of land
              distribution in
              Zinmbabwe has led to
              an increase in tension,
              with squatters
              white-owned farms
              with the support of President Mugabe.

              Turnout among Zimbabwe's five million voters
              was high on Saturday, which passed off with
              reports of some irregularities - but no serious

              As polls opened again on Sunday in the capital,
              hundreds of people rushed to try to beat the
              queues and then resigned themselves to a long

              International observers
              say they continue to be
              pleased on the whole
              with the way the
              election is going.

              Most observers have
              been allowed to remain
              with the ballot boxes
              overnight, narrowing
              the scope for fraud.
              First results are
              expected on Monday.

              The president, who voted early on Saturday
              insisted that Zanu-PF party would see off the
              challenge from the newly-formed opposition

              Mr Mugabe told reporters: "We are winning the
              elections. I hear that people are voting in their

              MDC leader Morgan
              Tsvangirai countered
              that he was confident
              of a majority but did
              not believe the election
              was fair.

              Speaking on the BBC's
              Breakfast With Frost
              programme he said:
              "Given the violence it
              cannot be considered a
              free and fair poll."

              But he added that he would work with Mr
              Mugabe. "The only route out of these elections
              is co-existence," he said.

              A BBC correspondent says Zimbabweans are
              voting in numbers not seen since the
              independence elections of 1980.

              Long queues stretched
              out from some polling
              stations, as people
              waited for up to three
              hours to vote. Many
              were mothers with
              babies strapped to their

              Some people were even reported to have slept
              outside to be sure of their place in the queue.

              Election officials said many polling stations had
              been swamped by the demand.

              The head of a network of local monitors, Kumbi
              Hodzi, said there had been isolated incidents of
              intimidation in rural constituencies, and some
              monitors had been prevented by Zanu-PF
              supporters from guarding ballot boxes on the
              night before the poll.

              The MDC itself reported
              50 incidents of
              harrassment and
              intimidation, including
              one in which it said
              farm workers were met
              at a polling station and
              taken to a camp to be
              "re-educated" before
              casting their votes.

              MDC leader Morgan
              Tsvangirai, casting his
              vote in the town of
              Buhera, praised the
              high turnout.

              He said people clearly wanted change, and
              were prepared to vote for it despite the
              intimidation they had suffered.

              The country's last white prime minister, Ian
              Smith, was also among the early voters,
              casting his ballot at the Belgravia Sports Club
              in Harare.

              He told reporters: "All I want to do is get rid of
              the present gangsters. We have only got a
              weekend to go, and then we will know whether
              we have saved our country or not."

              Mr Mugabe will be hoping that his party's
              traditional supporters in rural areas will vote in
              sufficient numbers to outweigh the opposition's
              advantage in towns and cities.

              Correspondents say the MDC has a realistic
              chance of winning a majority of the 120
              parliamentary seats being contested.

              But, as president, Mr Mugabe has a big
              advantage - he is allowed to pick another 30
              MPs to make up the 150-seat parliament.
              Currently, only three seats are held by
              opposition MPs.
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From The Sunday Times 25th June 2000
Be bold, Zimbabwe

When the 5m voters of Zimbabwe go to the polls today, completing
 the two-day election process, their task is obvious. It should be to
 send the clearest possible message to Robert Mugabe, its president,
 that his time is up and that the country needs Morgan Tsvangirai
 and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Mr Mugabe's 20
 years at the helm have seen all hopes crushed. What should have
 been one of Africa's brightest prospects has been turned into an
 economic disaster zone, saddled with 60% inflation and more than
 50% unemployment. The idea that Mr Mugabe and his Zanu-PF
 party could even contemplate still being in government when the
 results come through this week seems absurd.

 But this is Zimbabwe. The election campaign has been characterised
 by intimidation and terror. Zachariah Rioga, an opposition candidate,
 is lying in a coma, having been beaten by Zanu-PF supporters with
 iron bars. One of his colleagues died after an assault earlier in the
 campaign. Another narrowly escaped death after a petrol attack.
 MDC supporters have been beaten and murdered. Attacks on white
 farmers and their workers, openly encouraged by Mr Mugabe, have
 been targeted on those with sympathies for the MDC. Zimbabwe's
 five elections since 1980 have all been violent. Never before,
 however, has the president's determination to use force to cling to
 power been quite so naked. "You can't have an election campaign
 with opposing parties without incidents," he says in his interview
 with David Dimbleby in The Sunday Times today.

 Intimidation is one barrier to the political change that Zimbabwe
 desperately needs, but Mr Mugabe also has constitutional weapons
 at his disposal. The law allows him to appoint 30 of the 150 members
 of parliament, presenting the MDC with the formidable challenge of
 winning 76 of the 120 seats up for grabs today. Even if it succeeds,
 Mr Mugabe has the right to remain president until 2002. It should
 not come to that. A clear victory in the polls for the MDC should
 mark an end to a Mugabe era characterised by corruption, violence,
 incompetent government and, latterly, irrational homophobia. It will
 be a long road back for Zimbabwe. But it needs to begin today. Mr
 Mugabe should give way gracefully, and swiftly.
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The Sunday Times June 25 2000
                                     WORLD FOCUS

   'honourable exit' Tsvangirai to offer tyrant a quick

RW Johnson and Jon Swain, Harare
                   Election 2000

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI, the opposition leader who is promising to
end Robert Mugabe's "dictatorship", is a roly-poly man with a deep
belly laugh and a strong belief in his own destiny.

"I hope he [Mugabe] is not going to be like an ostrich," he said in an
eve-of-poll interview. "To ignore us would be suicidal. The people
want change and as far as I am concerned he is already history and
the sooner he goes the better."

Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), the main opposition party, neither drinks nor smokes. Being a
teetotaller is the one thing he has in common with Mugabe.

He fears that Mugabe is an ageing tyrant who will "try anything" to
hang on if the MDC triumphs. Two years remain of his presidency.
Tsvangirai gives him three to six months, during which he hopes to
negotiate "an honourable exit" for Mugabe.

"Why I say an honourable exit is to try to knock some sense into the
man," he said. "Mugabe cannot hang in there when he has lost the
mandate of the people. What legitimacy will he have?"

Tsvangirai is a forceful character who has been through too much
these past four months to be anything but forthright. Even as he
spoke last Friday, news came in that an MDC candidate had been
taken to hospital in a coma after an attack by thugs from Mugabe's
Zanu-PF. "These bastards, these bastards," he muttered.

"Out in the country these things happen in the middle of the night
beyond the sight or knowledge of the election observers -
're-education sessions', with beatings, torture, murders. Houses
burned down - just last night that happened in five places."

Two hundred women had been raped, he said. "Ask the villagers,
they'll tell you what is happening. And they reassure us that it just
makes them more determined to vote MDC."

Tsvangirai is a survivor. A carpenter's son, the eldest of nine
children, he rose through the ranks to become a miners' leader, then
head of the Congress of Trade Unions.

Imprisoned by Mugabe after he led the unions out of their alliance
with Zanu-PF, he has survived an assassination attempt when
assailants tried to throw him from a 10th-floor window.

He seems fearless: "There can be 10 billion on my head for all I care,"
he said. But he has told his candidates to maintain maximum security.

He believes Zanu-PF had a target of killing five MDC candidates and
winning in those seats unopposed. "But they haven't managed it.
And if they kill any of us now, it's too late: the seat would have to be

Tsvangirai believes the MDC has the support of up to 70% of
Zimbabweans. "Zanu-PF can only win by rigging. They can't rig
every seat but they'll try to rig enough to stop us getting the 76 seats
that constitute an overall majority," he said.

"We know they have targeted 30 constituencies for rigging but we
will challenge them in the courts, get the results declared null and
void and then win them on the rerun. One way or the other, I expect
us to end up with 80-85 seats."

There is no doubting Tsvangirai's confidence. His whole frame
exudes it, and he is impatient to get on with government. "Once we
have won, Mugabe has to choose between co-existence or mass
repression. He cannot go for repression against the whole country,
especially since he would face international sanctions.

"In any case, the army have told him that they will respect any duly
elected government, that they are not available for the work of
repression. We know that. We have talked to them, too."

What if the election is stolen? What if the MDC fails badly, getting
only 40 seats or fewer? Would Tsvangirai call a general strike?

He said 40 seats would be "ridiculous"; that would require rigging on
a huge scale.

There were various options, he said. There would not necessarily be
a strike like the national protests he led in 1998 against tax and price
increases. Mugabe sent in riot police and the army to crush what he
saw as an attempted revolt.

This time the first thing to do would be to challenge "rigged" results
in the courts, Tsvangirai explained. The MDC is nervous that rigging
could provoke serious civil unrest, even a popular uprising, because
the hunger for change is so great. Then, he said, the plan would be to
call for calm while the courts annulled ballots found to be unfair.

Zanu-PF's electoral violations have been so great that Tsvangirai
cannot imagine any judge upholding victories won by such means.

But even an MDC victory could cause problems: it could send huge
celebrating crowds on to the streets of Harare and a march on the
presidential palace could not be ruled out.

Could a victorious MDC work with Mugabe? "There have to be
tough negotiations for the transition - but on an MDC agenda," he
said. "We need to change the structure of government and
constitutional reform. That's non-negotiable. But we would not
expect Mugabe to last more than three to six months.

"If he is there longer than that he will start manoeuvring to try to
divide us. A lot of the negotiations would have to be about his
honourable exit."

Tsvangirai sees the initial job of an MDC government as rebuilding
confidence. "I have a national agenda now, not a trade union agenda.
We must build a national consensus. And we need to rebuild our
relations with all the major powers and institutions, Britain included."

Relations between Britain and Zimbabwe have suffered because of
Mugabe's paranoid obsession, he said. He could find no rational
explanation other than Mugabe probably having money in Britain
and thinking the authorities would freeze it.

Tsvangirai was scathing about the government-backed squatters and
war veterans who have invaded hundreds of white-owned farms.
"They are a bunch of outlaws. The first thing to do is to restore the
rule of law. We will tell the police to go in and get them off the farms.

"We will have our own resettlement scheme and they can take their
place in the queue with everyone else, but they will have no priority.
And some of them will be facing serious criminal charges."

Tsvangirai has no doubt that the police will obey. "The police
commissioner has taken a political position, and he will have to go.
But we need an army and a police force that people can respect, that
are outside politics."

What about tame Zanu-PF judges who have ignored the
constitution? Tsvangirai impatiently swept his hand across his desk.
"We have to clean up the police, we have to clean up the judiciary."

The constitution allows Mugabe to hang on until the next
presidential election in 2002. It is difficult to believe in the sort of
transition Tsvangirai wants while Mugabe remains. But Tsvangirai
does not believe he will stay. "We would vote down his budget,
deprive him of the means to run the country. And he would not want
to stay in order to legislate an MDC agenda."

The question of an honourable exit for Mugabe is tantalising.
Atrocities in Matabeleland that left thousands dead in the 1980s
remain unpunished. "How far back should we go? Should we
prosecute Ian Smith for the atrocities he committed? It's more
important to look forward than back," Tsvangirai said.

He sounds as if he's almost leaning over backwards to offer Mugabe
a way out. The phrase "honourable exit" constantly recurs. But what
about the things Mugabe has done in the past four months?

"I have been talking that way to try to knock some sense into the

"But he's done what he has done and he must face the
consequences. Even presidents can go to jail. The law must take its
course. In any case, his time is up."

Election 2000

  Of 150 seats in parliament, 120 are being contested in a
first-past-the-post system

  President Mugabe, the leader of Zanu-PF, appoints 30 MPs. This
means the opposition Movement for Democratic Change needs 76
seats to win a majority, while Zanu-PF requires only 46

  5m of Zimbabwe's 12.5m people are registered to vote

  About 16,000 local monitors and 300 foreign observers are trying to
prevent intimidation and vote rigging at 4,000 polling stations

  Polls show the MDC is the overwhelming favourite among urban
voters, while Zanu-PF support is higher in rural areas
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From The Sunday Times 25th June 2000
Voters defy terror to break Mugabe's
               grip on power

                 Jon Swain, Harare
ZIMBABWE was fraught with tension
and mistrust yesterday as voting began
in its most crucial elections since
independence from Britain.

At stake is President Robert Mugabe's
unbroken 20-year-stranglehold on
power, which has brought Zimbabwe to
the brink of economic ruin and
threatens the future of a beleaguered
white farming community he says is no
longer welcome.

The misty African dawn had hardly
broken before lines of voters formed at
polling stations, so eager were people
to vote. For the most part the early
polling was orderly, even
goodhumoured. But as the day
progressed reports trickled in of
pockets of trouble from several points
of the compass around Harare.

One hundred yards from a polling station at Nzimbo, 37 miles
northeast of the capital, a bomb exploded, setting a petrol station on
fire. The opposition candidate, Shepherd Mushonga, said it blew up
as he was filling his tank. He was sure it was an attempt to kill him. As
he drove off, he was attacked by a gang and had to shelter in a police

Opposition monitors were pelted with stones at a roadblock set up by
pro-government militias in the Hwedza district, south of Harare. At
Guruve, to the north, "war veterans" were said to have occupied a
polling booth. There was also a report of veterans setting up
barricades at Domerville Estate, east of the city, to prevent people
from voting.

In Harare, Clive Chimbi, a former government supporter standing as
an independent, reported his election agent's house had been

Finn Nielsen, the leader of an European Union observer team in the
Midlands, said there was trouble at some polling stations, with
people unable to enter. At one, a gang of war veterans demanded the
names and addresses of voters.

Mugabe's Zanu-PF party faces possible defeat in the polls for the
first time at the hands of the Movement for Democratic Change, an
opposition party that sprang up only seven months ago.

At his rallies, Mugabe called the MDC the Movement for the
Destruction of the Country. He claimed it was the stooge of the
whites and bankrolled by Britain.

But Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, genuinely believes his
party will emerge as outright winners by Tuesday, despite the
campaign violence and the serious doubts raised at home and abroad
about the fairness of this weekend's vote.

Tsvangirai and Mugabe heartily detest each other. Tsvangirai has
escaped one assassination attempt already, and in recent months the
76-year-old president has shown he is determined to cling on to
power at all costs.

At least 30 people have been killed and hundreds injured in
pre-election violence since February, when a referendum on
constitutional reform was defeated, the first indication that Mugabe's
grip was slipping.

Five white farmers have been murdered and many have lost their
homes since then. Thousands of armed Mugabe supporters have
occupied more than 1,500 white farms, demanding they be distributed
to landless blacks.

Mugabe has made the disproportionate white ownership of farmland
a leading campaign issue. He has promised to begin confiscating the
land without compensation and redistibuting it after the election.

Little wonder the white community sees the MDC as its beacon of

As the campaign peaked last week, this view seemed to be shared
increasingly by millions of black Zimbabweans, fed up with sky-high
unemployment, inflation and interest rates that have wrecked what
was until recently one of Africa's most prosperous nations.

As the 4,000 polling booths opened, the climate of intolerance that
has marked the past four months was carefully hidden beneath a
veneer of respectability.

Most candidates who had been in hiding in Harare after death threats
managed to sneak back to their rural constituencies to vote. One who
had fled to neighbouring Zambia after being warned personally by
the army chief, a relative, to stay away or be killed, also returned,
convinced that the presence of the EU and other international
observers made it safe.

But for Didimas Munhenzva, standing for the MDC against Sydney
Sekeramayi of Zanu-PF in Marondera, southeast of Harare, it was not
so straightforward. As the minister for state security, Sekaramayi
runs the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO). The CIO is known to
have been behind a number of the recent killings, intimidation and

Yesterday Sekeramayi voted at Marondera, scathingly dismissing
Munhenzva as "never showing up". In fact, after many death threats,
Munhenzva stole into his constituency hours before the poll. When
two CIO cars followed him to a meeting of polling agents, he was
forced to return to Harare.

Munhenzva came back to vote at lunchtime, saying his absences
from Marondera since April had made it "very difficult" to get his
message across.

His defiance was reflected in Elias Pfebve, the MDC candidate for
Bindura, whose brother was murdered and father beaten up. Pfebve is
standing against Border Gezi, one of the architects of the farm

Despite the violence there was also a lighter side to the voting
yesterday. The Zimbabwe election is the only one where voters could
cast their ballots for "Hitler" and "Stalin" - both, as the MDC pointed
out, being candidates for Zanu-PF.

Chenjerai Hitler Hunzvi is better known as the radical war veterans'
leader who has been a thorn in the side of the white farmers. Stalin
Mau Mau, standing in Harare, is a former boxing promoter.

Observers and opinion polls give the MDC a realistic chance of
winning a majority of the 120 parliamentary seats being contested.
The party could certainly cry fraud if it got many fewer than 60 seats.

Mugabe has said he will abide by the result, taken by the opposition
to mean he has realised that he cannot rely any more on the army to
impose what would effectively be one-man rule. But some fear that
chaos and more bloodshed will follow an MDC triumph.

The farmers may yet have their revenge for the violence visited on
them during the campaign. Many were ordered by Zanu-PF to
transport their workers to polling stations yesterday. Farm workers
had been told the party had satellites in the sky, which could see how
they voted.

Some farmers therefore drove their labourers to different polling
stations, where they could vote for the MDC without feeling

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