On Wednesday July 31, the people of Zimbabwe will go to the polls. Once again, there has been all kinds of chicanery carried out by President Robert Mugabe and his henchmen to do everything they can to ensure a win for ZANU-PF.
Among the dirty tricks has been a ‘special voting’ weekend for members of the armed forces and police which took place on July 14 and 15; the reason being given for this was that the personnel would be needed on election day to ensure security. However, this ‘special vote’ was nothing short of chaotic with many of those wishing to vote unable to do so. There is now concern that members of the security forces, traditionally Mugabe supporters, may vote twice following a Constitutional Court order that those who did not get the chance to vote can do so along with the general population on Wednesday.
Then there is the curious case of ballot papers from the special vote in favour of the opposition MDC party leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, being found in a rubbish bin outside the Harare International Conference Centre. The Deputy Transport Minister has been arrested and is being questioned by police in regards to this matter.
Finally there are the words of President Mugabe himself, who has been in power for 33 years, presiding over the downfall of his country from economic boom to disaster, starvation and disease. Mugabe is 89 now but in his speeches at party rallies he appears to hint that he will not accept the result if Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC party wins.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told the BBC that the Army will take over if Tsvangirai wins, claiming that other countries were aiding the MDC. “And if those countries impose for him [Tsvangirai] to win, that result will not be acceptable. We will not accept it. We will just not accept it. Isn’t that clear?”
In previous election campaigns, President Mugabe and his ZANU-PF cronies have been able to control the media, making sure that newspapers etc toe the party line, but in 2013, social media has changed the way that people communicate and disseminate information. One Facebook page in particular, that of ‘Baba Jukwa‘ has over 300,000 followers. No-one knows who ‘Baba Jukwa’ is but his or her posts have led to Mugabe putting a price on his or her head.
Zimbabweans have an historic chance to bring about the change that the country so desperately needs but the fear is at what cost? Can the despotic Mugabe finally be brought down? Only the people of Zimbabwe can answer that question at the ballot box.