I read in the International Herald Tribune today that Zimbabwe be allowing some ‘independent’ observers to monitor it’s election this weekend – but only observers from China, Iran, Libya, Russia and Venezuela will be permitted (looks like they forgot to invite anyone from North Korea and Cuba).
The paper also reported that an extra three million ballot papers have been printed (there are six million registered voters but nine million ballot papers were printed).
If that isn’t a clear enough indication that Mugabe intends to rig the election again, then just to make sure nobody is under any misapprehensions about the outcome, the Zimbabwean army chief announced that he will not permit Mugabe to lose, and will stage a coup if there is an ‘adverse’ vote.
And not to be outdone, the police chief promised to fire live ammunition at anyone who protests the outcome.
What is the point of holding an election when it is clear that Mugabe intends to rig it as he did in 2000, 2002 and 2005?
The IHT compared Zimbabwe with its neighbor Botswana, which it described as an “oasis of peace and good governance, and “one of Africa’s wealthiest nations per capita thanks to diamonds, tourism, and sensible management” and which “has enjoyed more than four decades of honest, practical government under four popular presidents”.
Mugabe, on the other hand, the IHT says “has turned his once lush, prosperous nation into a desperate, dessicated despotism, with hunger and bitterness everywhere.”
I couldn’t agree more. When I was in the two countries 18 months ago, the contrasts were striking. In Zimbabwe the petrol stations have no petrol, the pharmacies have no medicines, the stores have little food (and what little there is, few people can afford the prices with 100,000 per cent inflation), the schools have no books (and few have any teachers) and ordinary people are struggling to survive.
I visited a school at Chisuma (see picture below) and the headmaster told me that 25 per cent of the kids were orphans because their parents had died from various diseases and ailments because the hospitals and doctors don’t have any medicines to treat anyone. He said life expectancy in Zimbabwe was now only 40 years of age (according to the IHT, for women it is now down to 34).
Mugabe is a failure. The 84-year-old dictator has let his people down miserably. In another paper he was quoted as saying he wouldn’t rig the election “otherwise he wouldn’t be able to sleep at night”. Yeah, sure. Does that mean he can sleep at night whilst thousands of his citizens die of hunger and disease?
It is time for Mugabe to go, but nobody is holding their breath that it’s going to happen this weekend.