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African Tears Beyond Tears Innocent Victims Imire Can you hear the drums, by Cathy Buckle


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How many diplomats to change a light bulb?
July 13, 2013, 10:56 am

 

Dear Family and Friends,

The ugliness that is elections in Zimbabwe has started. For the last four years we’ve had a “unity” government but all signs of unity have gone out the window as the real, ugly, power struggles begins again.

When Zanu PF launched their election manifesto it was covered live on the only television channel that is allowed to broadcast in Zimbabwe. The live coverage lasted  just short of five hours, and was an uninterrupted ZBC TV broadcast without even a line at the bottom of the screen explaining what was going on or when normal programming would resume. Two days later when the MDC launched their election manifesto there was no live TV coverage at all and just a short report lasting around  two minutes on the main evening news bulletin.

Then the shockwaves began, starting with some big, frightening figures. 60,000 police are voting early despite the statement by the Minister of Finance that there are only 39,000 police on the payroll – so who are the other 21,000?

Three to four million Zimbabweans living and working outside the country are not allowed to vote but staff at diplomatic missions are. In 2008,  five thousand  applications for postal voting came from foreign embassy staff at diplomatic missions around the world. Four years later the number has swollen to a massive 120,000. So who are the other 115,000? What’s that joke about how many diplomats it takes to change a light bulb?

Next came more revelations about voter registration. When the process came to an end recently there were reports that thousands of people hadn’t been able to get to the front of the lines. A couple of days later we heard that in Harare alone over 300,000 people had failed to register. Extrapolate that number around the country for an even more frightening figure.

Then came the list drawn up by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of individual  countries invited to observe the elections. These include: Algeria, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Brazil, Jamaica, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, Russia, Belarus and Serbia.  Commenting on the list,  a Crisis Coalition spokesperson wrote: “It’s not a birthday party where you invite your friends; it is a process where you bring in all those so you have a proper assessment of your processes…. there is an attempt to manage perceptions by courting favours and cherry picking.”

Meanwhile at street level, tearing up election posters has become the favourite sport of the day, except it always happens at night. MDC posters in Marondera town are being torn down and replaced with those of a  disgruntled candidate who lost in the primaries, decided to stand as  an independent but is advertising using the MDC colours on posters. And then overnight came thousands of anonymous A5 flyers strewn all over Marondera urban and residential areas showing a black man carrying a white man on his back across a river. ‘Until when?’ was the question it posed at the top, followed by the words: "The black person is my younger brother, I am the elder. He is the donkey and I am the rider." The ugly, racist  insinuation was met with contempt shown by the thousands of flyers left lying on the ground by midday the following morning. The money wasted on this sick little attempt to stir up race hate would be so much better spent on cleaning the town rather than adding more filth.  

Despite it all, there is a huge groundswell of hope pulling us forward and a never before seen determination to go and vote by everyone you meet. Until next time, thanks for reading. Love cathy



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