CAPE TOWN, South Africa – Observers of Zimbabwe’s recent spring election saw a new wave of intimidation tactics employed by dictator Robert Mugabe’s henchmen – including the arrest, beating, torture and even murder of opposition members.
Over 1,400 supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC, who opposed Mugabe were arrested, along with MDC election observers. Various human-rights groups documented more than 70,000 human-rights abuses.
Mugabe’s election victory was celebrated with an “anti-American” march in which a coffin of the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was paraded through Zimbabwe’s capital with an American flag draped over it.
Sheila McVey, a white Zimbabwean farmer who observed this celebration, told WorldNetDaily, “It was frightening and disgusting. Zimbabwe has gone mad. Where are the Americans and Brits when we need them most? Where is the United Nations?”
Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF militia beat several MDC supporters to death. Darlington Vikaveka and farm manager John Rutherford were beaten to death on a farm near Mrondera. In Kwekwe, Mugabe troops killed Funny Mahuni at a torture camp in the Mbizo township. Witnesses said Mahuni’s stomach was slit open with a knife. Many street vendors in Bulawayo were beaten and had their “for sale” items taken away by the Mugabe militia when they were suspected of voting for the opposition.
During the election, Mugabe’s militia – bolstered by 20,000 new recruits based at 23 posts in Mugabe’s tribal homeland of Mashonaland – spread out around the nation and prevented at least 500,000 registered MDC voters from turning in their ballots, about 15 percent of all registered voters. The militia set up roadblocks all across the nation and would allow only passengers with ZANU-PF membership cards access to voting stations. On one Zimbabwean farm, where a poster of Mugabe was ruined with graffiti, the militia reportedly threatened to send the black workers on the farm to one of Mugabe’s “re-education camps.”
Philip Chiyangawa, a ZANU-PF member of parliament was captured on videotape telling one Mugabe youth militia member to “get a hold of MDC supporters; beat them until they are dead. Burn their farms and their workers’ houses, then run away and we will blame the burning of the workers’ houses on the whites. Report to the police, because they are ours.”
Mitchell Gammonds, a British expatriate who was hunting on safari in Zimbabwe during the election, told WorldNetDaily, “Zimbabwe has been ruined. The scene was one of pandemonium. God help the MDC.”
Almost 50 percent of the voting stations went unmonitored. Zimbabwe’s former head of military intelligence, Col. Sobusa Gula-Ndebele, was put in charge of the Electoral Supervisory Commission overseeing the election.
Because of his tactics, Mugabe “won big” for the first time in Matabeleland, where he brought in North Korean mercenaries in the early 1980s to slaughter 20,000-30,000 Matabele tribesmen who opposed his dictatorship.
The army and police in Zimbabwe reportedly were forced to vote for Mugabe. Many troops were brought home from neighboring Congo and told to prepare for a coup against the MDC if in fact the MDC won the election.
Didymus Mutasa, the ZANU-PF politburo secretary for external affairs told the South African Broadcast Commission “mayhem” would result if the MDC won the election. “Under these circumstances, if there were to be a coup, we could support it very definitely,” he commented.
Comrade Zhou, a leading war veteran in Mugabe’s militia, told the South African media, “I do not understand why Comrade Mugabe has to have an election. Who said we had to have elections? The colonialists. We will know if there is a single vote for the colonialists, and that person will regret it. There is no law in a war. You try to kill your enemy, he is your enemy and you must kill him, not put him on trial. We had to beat one man because people heard him say it was the president’s fault ‘there is no food.'”
Rhodesia (the former name of Zimbabwe) was a net exporter of food and the breadbasket of Africa under Ian Smith’s white government. Today, Zimbabwe has declared a famine, confiscated all white-owned farms and threatened to place any white farmer who dares to plant new crops in prison.
Mugabe, alarmed by the drought and famine in the nation, staged a witchcraft ceremony asking for rain. At this ceremony, Mugabe claimed he was possessed by the spirit of “Murenga,” a witch doctor who inspired a revolt against white settlers building Zimbabwe/Rhodesia back in 1896. At the ceremony, Mugabe praised the 10,000 Libyan mercenaries who are helping to prop up his rule and warned that anyone who voted for the MDC would be cursed and hounded by “evil spirits.”
Two million Zimbabweans eligible to vote – those living overseas – were prevented from voting, while many deceased Zimbabweans somehow “voted.” Mugabe received 5 million votes in a country with a total of 12 million inhabitants. Two million citizens out of the nation could not vote, and 60 percent of the residents in Zimbabwe are under the legal voting age of 18.
Still, South Africa’s ANC endorsed Mugabe’s victory. In the March 14 Cape Times, the ANC was quoted as sending “warm congratulations” to Mugabe for “a convincing majority win. Indeed, the people of Zimbabwe have spoken and let their will be respected by all.”
Sam Motsuenyane, the leader of the South African Observer Mission to the Zimbabwean election said that the violence, murder, abduction and torture of other election observers was “an administrative oversight.”
Afterward, under pressure from the Labor Party in the UK and the threat that the European Union would not fund South African President Thabo Mbeki’s NEPAD economic initiative for Southern Africa, Mbeki took back his endorsement. The International Ecumenical Peace Observers hailing from the All Africa Conference of Churches also rejected the outcome of the election, as did Zimbabwe’s Council of Churches.
Inkatha, South Africa’s Zulu party, rejected the result, saying, “Yes, he (Mugabe) did win, but it was a muddied and bloody train to victory.”
Tony Leon, the Democratic Alliance leader in South Africa and a major political player, said, “The election was characterized by fundamental violations. If we again fail to act, our region will be written off by the developed world. The South African government should align itself on the side of human rights and democracy.”
Rev. Ken Meshoe, the president of the African Christian Democratic Party also rejected the results and singled out “pre-poll violence and intimidation targeted at the members of opposition parties.” Eleven Christians and several pastors in Zimbabwe were arrested for organizing an interdenominational prayer meeting to ask for peace in Zimbabwe before the elections. Catholics, Methodists and Anglicans, among others, were arrested.
Several South African newspapers chastised the ANC for endorsing Mugabe and thus scaring off foreign investment.
The European Union, British Commonwealth and U.S. all rejected the election results as a fraud. The UK threatened to expel Zimbabwe, the former British colony of Rhodesia, from the Commonwealth.