|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
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- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Sokwanele Report : 4 April 2005
Sokwanele earlier reported on the signs then emerging of a popular uprising in protest against the patently false election results being announced from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in Harare, through Friday and Saturday (April 1st and 2nd). Readers may have wondered what happened to that uprising, or had we got our facts wrong? Today we are able to bring you a report about life on the streets in Zimbabwe’s second city, Bulawayo, through the extremely tense hours following the vote, which helps to explain and put that story into context. Our informants are a number of eyewitnesses, whose individual stories we have combined into one summarised account.
In the early hours of Saturday morning the residents of the western suburbs of Bulawayo found their neighbourhood swamped with troops. The troops were in full combat gear, including steel helmets, and were brandishing AK 47 rifles. They were deployed in groups of between five and eight soldiers on the streets throughout the high-density suburbs, and to the ordinary peace-loving, law-abiding citizens their presence was extremely intimidating.
The soldiers made their presence felt in deliberate fashion, ordering even the smallest gatherings of residents in business centres, pubs and other public places, to disperse. When a local dared to comment on their presence within earshot of a group of soldiers, he was told in no uncertain terms to go home, and that the slightest disturbance would be met with ruthless force. A few hours later the soldiers boarded military vehicles which then proceeded to circle the western suburbs a number of times in the most menacing fashion.
If any proof was required of the menace behind Robert Mugabe’s words broadcast over state radio the day before, that “any mass action will be met with mass action”, here it was for all to see.
Later on Saturday morning after the troops had been withdrawn to their barracks, the citizens of Bulawayo discovered that, not only the western suburbs but now the city centre as well, was covered with an unusually large number of police patrolling in full uniform. The police, who carried radios, were deployed in groups of four or five. They remained on the streets throughout the day.
Here was a glimpse of the only authority left to Zimbabwe’s reviled dictator, and the authority by which he continues to rule against the will of his people. Here was a glimpse also of the reason the expected uprising may have been, not cancelled, but postponed for strategic reasons.
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