A campaign poster for Mugabe's party
Hopes for a fair election are over in Zimbabwe after opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of Friday's planned run-off on Sunday. But while expectations have been quashed, repressive government violence and spiralling food prices seem to be unstoppable.
After months of waiting, the Zimbabwean people will not get a run-off election between opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and dictatorial leader Robert Mugabe. Tsvangirai pulled out of the race on Sunday and is in hiding in the capital's Dutch embassy. Yesterday, the UN Security Council said that a free and fair election would be "impossible". Over 70 Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters are presumed dead and more than 3,000 people have been hospitalised, along with sky-rocketing food prices and inflation heading towards 120% percent week on week (according to the country's daily The Herald).
"The militia comes round banging on the doors and asking who you’re voting for"
Gerald Matiba is the coordinator for the Christian Legal Society in the city of Bulawayo.We're in a state of confusion. There's some disappointment but most people feel it's the right decision from Tsvangirai. Weeks ago we felt differently but now...with all the violence! I've seen a man with his face cut open, another with his wrists slit. So many people have left their homes. The militia comes round banging on the doors and asking who you're voting for. It doesn't matter what answer you give, they'll intimidate you anyway. And if you do say Tsvangirai then they take you away. We don't know quite what's happened to those people. Some say torture, others say death.
People didn't know whether to even bother voting let alone for who. We were sure war was coming, so we would have let Mugabe win anyway; to avoid the situation getting worse. Daily life is challenging. I work for a legal society working for justice - we have to work very discreetly; only through the internet. Last week we got threats. We don't know how we survive. People have to walk for days for food, even to South Africa and back."
"We’ve done what we can. Now we’re calling on outside help"
Munyoro is a black farmer from the outskirts of Bulawayo. He prefers to remain anonymous.It wasn't a big shock but very frustrating for us. I'm in a very comfortable area; we haven't suffered from such harsh intimation here, so we're just frustrated because we were ready to vote and thought Tsvangirai would win. Even though we knew Tsvangirai wouldn't get in power straight away if he won, we're desperate for anything - it was something to look forward to.
With the high prices you need about five times your salary to survive now. But we do survive! People outside the country are sending us money. We've cut down from three meals to one a day. We don't eat bread or use salt. And you don't take transport anymore. Everyone's getting up at five in the morning to get to work on foot, which takes three hours for most people. We haven't got violent because they [the govt.] don't care if we put a brick through a window - they've already destroyed the country themselves! There's no point in us doing it too.
Now nothing much at all is going to happen. It will all be talk. I really hope the UN and the rest of the world will follow their words with actions. The Zimbabwe people need the international community. We've done what we can. Now we're calling on outside help. Life is like in slow motion."
"The Losers' Club": Blair, Bush, Brown and...Tsvangirai