There is a general consensus amongst activists that Mugabe and his party Zanu PF will not give up their position easily. Even though they plan to rig the election as usual, they want to give the result a semblance legitimacy by polling the largest number of votes. Some of the stages of the plans have already been implemented, the events in the past 3 years have seemed random but believe you me they were neither random nor unplanned but part of a sophisticated plan to skew the result of the forthcoming elections in their favour.
On 18th June 2005, the illegal Zimbabwean government started Operation Murambatsvina, (Shona for drive out filth) a plan authored by Mengistu a wanted criminal guilty of genocide that he oversaw as the leader of the military junta that ruled Ethiopia from 1974 to 1987. Mengistu fled Ethiopia in 1991 and was granted asylum by the Zimbabwean government where he began work as a consultant to Mugabe's notorious secret police the CIO. It is while working for the CIO that Mengistu was approached by Mugabe who wanted to deal with "the problem of MDC in Zimbabwe's urban areas", Mengistu pointed out to the "slum dwellers" a derogatory term meant to describe Zimbabwe's informal housing mostly extensions of existing council houses as the source of problems if ever the people of Zimbabwe rise up against Mugabe. He offered to help Mugabe using the same methods he applied during the Red Terror Campaign in Ethiopia to suppress a rebellion led by the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Party (EPRP), where 1.5 million Ethiopians died. Mugabe took heed of Mengistu and started bulldozing and destroying structures that housed informal sector businesses and homes of more than 2 million people in a guise of urban cleanup. It was not an isolated event,neither was it an urban clean up because all the affected were urban dwellers, all MDC supporters who have consistently voted MDC in every election since 2000. Zanu PF promised to rehouse the affected but still today they are homeless making them ineligible to be added to the voters roll as electors . With 90% unemployment in Zimbabwe many of my country men and women are now engaged in small to medium scale enterprising so destroying that informal sector was meant to drive them out of town out of the country in search of economic survival. What Murambatsvina achieved is what it was meant to be: to depopulate the urban areas therefore rob MDC of the its core constituent. Immediately the playing field is not level, the displaced victims of Murambatsvina are no longer eligible to be added to the voters roll as they do not have a fixed abode.
On the 11th March this year, Mugabe reacted barbarically to a Save Zimbabwe Coalition led prayer meeting by arresting and severely beating and torturing more than 60 opposition party leaders and civic leaders who had gathered in Highfields to pray for Zimbabwe. The images of battered opposition figures were broadcast world over, Mugabe danced as he arrived in Tanzania for the extra-ordinary meeting of SADC to discuss problems in Zimbabwe. The message was clear to all the activists fighting for democracy as to what extent this regime would do to cling on to power. If Morgan Tsvangirai a prominent leader of MDC can be beaten unconscious and Mrs Sekai Holland a 60 year old grandmother can have both her legs broken what then awaits an ordinary rank and file member of MDC, I shudder to think. Immediately after beating up opposition leaders Mugabe's government abducted and arrested 21 MDC members amongst them an MDC Member of Parliament and The MDC Director of Elections who were held without bail for 5 months over a manufactured story. How can MDC realistically participate in the forthcoming elections when the very machinery employed by the party to spearhead the election is incapacitated by the illegal government through arbitrary arrests and political persecution? There is now an informal curfew now in Zimbabwe, you cannot be seen after certain hours you have to account for your activities, neither can more than two people congregate without police consent.
Sometime in June Mugabe's secret police the CIO started buying massive amounts of foreign currency on the open market using freshly printed currency. In the very same week the Zimbabwean dollar went from 1 is to 70 000 against the US dollar to 1 is to 400000. The business operators mainly retailers reacted to this by increasing prices to cover the cost of stock. Thats when the illegal government announced its operation Good Governance also known as Operation Slash Prices also known as Operation Deredza Mitengo in vernacular. Under orders secret forces were deployed at all business areas instructed to force business owners to slash prices. There was no legal basis for these instructions – just orders to go into firms on a systematic basis and order them to cut prices or else. Managers and owners were specifically targeted to intimidate them into compliance those that failed to comply were arrested and charged. In the past weeks you might have seen headlines such as these:
Trillions of dollars of stock values were slashed from prices, no rational basis for these price cuts were sought or offered. Suddenly businesses faced the situation where they could not restock, could not manufacture and sell for a profit as most of their established products were now being priced into the market at below cost. Fuel was priced at half its landed cost and overnight some Z$400 billion in stock values was lost as customers scrambled to buy cheap fuel at half price or less. All imports suddenly came to a halt. The prices of all staple foods was likewise set at half or less the cost of production and when stocks ran out there was nothing to sell. Everybody knows the truth here the slashing of prices was not meant to benefit the ordinary people as it was purported but meant to hoodwink the electorate into thinking that Zanu PF cares. What Mugabe continues to do is underestimate the intelligence of Zimbabwean electorate, thinking that come election time they will sallow whole his incendiary speeches, gone are the day when a politician promised a bridge to the African electorate and they cheered. This economic sabotage is two fold, one hoodwink the electorate, drive businesses out of profit, increase unemployment and force people to migrate. If you think the deluge of Zimbabweans crossing into South Africa everyday is an isolated event, then think again. The victims of Operation Slash Prices are again mostly urban dwellers who were employees of the businesses forced to operate beyond economic means now find themselves unemployed and have to leave Zimbabwe to survive. Another significant reduction of eligible voters many MDC supporters who could deliver the defeat that have been giving Mugabe since 2000.
Other Rigging Mechanisms Already In Place
Zanu PF continues impregnating the voters roll with phantom voters. Its the only party accessible to state media, from print to TV, with most private Newspapers outlawed the only source of news is the state owned newspapers and TV that continue to churn Zanu PF propaganda after propaganda. Also the enforced absence of International election monitors and observers render any result from the 2008 election not free not fair. The absence of a new constitution makes participating in these elections a mockery. As 2008 fast approaches Zanu PF is bound to get restless and come up with new ideas to effectively rig the forthcoming elections in their quest to remain in power at whatever cost.