|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Opposition faces bitter struggle against a
By David Blair in Johannesburg
Thousands of Zimbabweans raised their hands for change yesterday at the largest rally of the opposition election campaign.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, was greeted by a sea of open palms as he addressed 15,000 supporters in the capital, Harare.
The open hand is the MDC's official symbol - in contrast with the clenched fists brandished by President Robert Mugabe and his followers in the ruling Zanu-PF. "Harare will never be Zanu-PF again," Mr Tsvangirai said.
He urged the crowd to back the MDC in Thursday's parliamentary election, saying: "The choice is very simple. You are being asked to choose between thieves, thugs and murderers and people who want to take Zimbabwe's children to the promised land."
However, the contest is heavily rigged against Mr Tsvangirai. There is less violence than in any recent campaign but every branch of the electoral machinery is slanted in Mr Mugabe's favour. Independent surveys have shown that the electoral roll is stuffed with the names of voters who have died or emigrated. At least one million names have been falsely registered.
Blogging along ...
Sokwanele: 27 March 2005
Today we launch our Sokwanele blog entitled ‘This is Zimbabwe’.
is a blog?
A blog, for those new to the concept, is simply an online diary – the word blog derives from the term ‘web-log’. Visit our blog at the address http://www.sokwanele.com/blog/blog.html or via a link on our front page.
We have invited a network of blog contributors to join us. They are based all around Zimbabwe, and come from all walks of life, and are ready to share with us their thoughts, feelings and humour about life in Zimbabwe in the run-up to Zimbabwe’s parliamentary elections. All of our contributors – or bloggers – are committed, as we are, to the Sokwanele principles of achieving peace and democracy in Zimbabwe through non-violent means. We have provided a summary of some of their entries so far at the end of this email.
Blogging gives a
voice to the people.
We know that not everyone has access to the internet, or to email, so we have asked our bloggers to report not only on their experiences, but also on the stories they hear from other people. We are also aware that security is a very big concern for people in Zimbabwe, especially when it comes to telling the truth in a climate where free expression is restricted and controlled, so we have made it possible for all of our bloggers to write for the blog anonymously.
Sokwanele will also be contributing to the blog under our own name. Our entries will be slightly different: we are committing ourselves to letting you and the world know about breaking grass roots news from Sokwanele activists during the election period. Our entries will be highlighted on the blog in a colour, to differentiate them from our contributors.
We plan to send out a regular short mailing over this period, which will contain a summary of entries from the day. In this way, those who cannot access the website will still be able to read some of our entries.
Sokwanele has recently added site feed to both the main website and the blog. This means that people, with newsreaders, can receive breaking news – articles and blog entries - by subscribing to our rss/xml feed. If you’d like to know more about how to subscribe to news feed, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll send you a short fact sheet.
Please circulate this email widely and invite other people to subscribe to our mailing list. The details of how to do so are provided in our footer.
Entries from 'This is Zimbabwe'
Saturday, March 26, 2005
'Fueled' or 'Fooled' ?
One of the speakers at the rally that I attended the other night was talking about the level of corruption that has developed in our society and how unashamed people have become. Today, I met with friends and the topic came up again. My friend (I'll call him Mr.T) shared his experience...
Recently, Mr.T went on holiday to Mozambique. Because he was unsure of whether he would get fuel along the way he took a jerry can of petrol with him. Before he crossed the border he filled up the fuel tank in his vehicle, but had about 10 litres left over in the can. At the border, the Zimbabwean officials told him he was not allowed to take fuel out of the country.
Obviously, Mr.T was annoyed and was NOT going to allow the officials to have his 10 litres of fuel. On principle, he started pouring the petrol out onto the road.
The officials, accompanied by an armed policeman, came dashing over and asked him to instead sell the petrol to the people nearby. Eventually my friend gave in, and sold his fuel for Z$30 000.00.
A short while later, at the customs office, the same officials asked how much cash he had on him. (There is a limit to the amount of Zim dollars you are allowed to take out of the county). Because of his fuel ‘sale’ he now exceeded the cash limit.
Surprise, surprise! Mr. T's extra cash was ‘confiscated’.
You cannot win! Fortunately, our sense of humour can’t be taken away.
posted by Noktula - Bulawayo at 3:38 PM
Friday, March 25, 2005
'War vets' as election supervisors
Government Election Supervisors are following the campaigners around and some of them have been recognized as local war vets. My belief is that these war vets have been given uniforms to intimidate people at rallies. This has happened in several different places. I've also been told that a notorious war vet who works at the Chiredzi General hospital as a nurse is now an Election Supervisor in this area...! We also have War vets as Polling station Presiding Officers in this area. How can anyone possibly say that this Election is free and fair under these circumstances?
posted by Cane Rat - Lowveld at 5:47 PM
I was quite relieved to see our pastor in church this Good Friday morning. He and some other members of our congregation had strolled through the city centre earlier today, from one church to another, carrying crosses to commemorate Jesus’ sacrifice for us. When we were asked to join him, I immediately thought: yes I do want to participate, as Christ died for me too, and I would not be afraid to publicly acknowledge that. But then I did become afraid after all. What if no police permission had been sought? What if I would be picked up by the CIO and taken to the Police Station like happened to me several years ago? What if I would have to give all my particulars again (name, address, ID-number etc) including my church affiliation? What if the CIO would read my name in the paper in the list of polling agents, which has to be published by law? What if – and I can go on like this for some time. So I did not carry my cross, and I felt terrible for not doing so. I had let down my pastor, my fellow congregants, but most of all I had let down Jesus Christ because I was afraid of mere men. This is what election time in Zimbabwe can do to people.
posted by Church Mouse - Bulawayo at 3:11 PM
Illegal: Singing on a bus
My hairdresser’s nephew was on a bus with 20 other male youths from their Apostolic Church en route to a Christian camp at Masvingo this weekend. They were stopped by Police at the Beatrice/Mbare road intersection and made to go to Mbare Police where they were charged with “Singing on a bus”.
The uniformed officious official fined them $450,000.00 (for the group of 20!).
Other police officers at the Station said “ that is not an offence” to which the more senior replied “ I will do whatever the President tells me to do”!!
posted by Flame Lily - Harare at 9:17 AM
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Testing the hypothesis
People are so screwed up by life in Zimbabwe in so many ways. I keep thinking of the frog in boiling water story, you know the one; if you put a frog into boiling water, it will try get out, but if you put it in cold water and then heat it slowly it will just get hotter and hotter until it dies. Or so I am told. As if anyone would actually test the hypothesis. But it's a good metaphor for Zimbabweans. Many of us here at home and not free in the Diaspora just don't realise what Mugabe's done to us and how he has impoverished our lives not only materially but also spiritually. The warmth and compassion we used to have for each other is almost non-existent. Intolerance and disrespect is the norm, irrespective of political orientation.
posted by Mandebvu - Harare at 1:22 AM
Saturday, March 19, 2005
Easter with a difference?
I was sad today. My girlfriend said she will not spend the easter holiday with me. She will be going home to see her parents. Home for her is Masvingo, the centre of Shona custom. Home will have a special meaning this Easter for Ruth*, affectionately called "My Sunshine" by yours truly. She has vowed that she will be voting. "I will cast my vote on the 31st." She said to me, "There is this lady in our street at home." She added, "Her campaign to be an elected representative of the people has been phenomenal. She has stood for councillor, she has stood for District Representative for her party, she is now going to stand for MP." She looks at me with determination in her eyes, " I am going to vote for that woman this time around, I think she deserves the praise of everyone in the community."
I swallow down the urge to remind Ruth that ours is a new found love that blossoms with every kiss and hug. I see in her the simple determination and reason that will drive the elections forward. Not many are thinking about the rigging, the violence and the intimidation. Many are looking at the elections with hope for a better future. People talk about the interviews held on TV and radio at workplaces and in commuter omnibuses. People make sacrifices to elected representatives. People wait for the dawn of a new era, today methinks Easter is coming with a difference.
*Name changed by Sokwanele
posted by Rudo - Harare at 12:43 PM
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