An empty polling station in Bulawayo on Friday morning. Posted by Sokwanele 27 June 08.
Zimbabweans are voting today in what's being labelled a "one-man election". Despite opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulling out of the competition on Sunday, President Robert Mugabe pushed ahead with the run-off between the two men. The opposition has accused Mugabe's ZANU-PF party of using violence to scare people into voting for Mugabe. One of our Observers went to the polls; another dared to stay at home. Here are their accounts of the day's events, told anonymously.
"The government labels the MDC as the true perpetrators of violence"
This parody of a news broadcast in Zimbabwe was posted by "TeaChicken" on YouTube 20 June 08.
"People say that it is better to be killed than to be under their control"
This message was sent to us by a web user who says he's from Zimbabwe. We contacted him but he hasn't replied yet.People as of today are now being forced to vote. If you don't, it's quite simple you get tortured, beaten or killed. Tell us then what is worse. So many people say that it is better to be killed than to be under their control. Now since nothing is being done I would like to know how all the world powers would feel once they see all the dead bodies piling, knowing that they should've done something about it. By then it will be too late.
This situation has got so bad over the years that people have just about had as much as they can take. We are at breaking point now and are begging people to help us."
"There's no difference if you vote or not"
Munyaradzi is a Morgan Tsvangirai supporter.
I did not vote. I didn't agree with the election - it's null and void. It is an insult to democracy to go ahead with an election where one candidate has pulled out of the race. Mugabe had already declared himself a winner before the polling day. He said the ballot cannot remove him from power but only God can, and that the bullet is mightier than the pen.
I would have voted for Morgan Tsvangirai if I could have. I voted for him in the last election, but that was different. It felt as though there was a possibility for change. We really believed then. I'm not scared at all for not voting. Things are so bad that there's no point in being scared. Seeing so much suffering, so much tension... the past two weeks have just got worse and worse. Many many people didn't vote; my colleagues will be targeted too if I am. I'm not saying I'm safe but you need to get on with life.
By whatever means Mugabe will get to power - he will be the president. So there's no difference if you vote or not. The Mugabe regime is not only undemocratic but evil. Even some African leaders have even said that the he's an embarrassment to the continent of Africa."
"They know exactly who went to vote and who they voted for"
Sara is an opponent of Mugabe.I went to vote this morning. My intention was to put my cross next to Tsvangirai's name, and then somehow get the ballot slip in the box without them knowing whose it was. But it's hard. When you go in they ask for your name and they then allocate you a ballot slip with a number on it. There is someone who quite obviously writes down your name with the number you were allocated - so they know exactly who went to vote and who they voted for. Plus, unlike normal elections which are held in big school halls, this one was in a tiny room. You're surrounded by officials - there are eight people around you in a 4x4m room! And then there are the five police officers stood outside. When I got there I realised I'd have to vote for Mugabe. It's pure intimidation.
There was hardly anyone there; there'll be a really low turnout overall. But because some people will have had to vote like me, then despite low numbers, Mugabe will say "people voted for me and no one else - they want me back, and I am back!" For the people who didn't vote, the aftermath will come a few days later like it did after 29 March. This situation is literally incredible. I've never seen such vicious brutality. Not even during the violence in 2000 or 2002 [when Mugabe ran a violent mission to redistribute land to the black population by forcibly removing white residents]."