The biggest thing on my mind these days is the election in Zimbabwe. Supposedly results will be posted today. The early word was that the opposition party, MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, was on track to win the elections. However, this projection was based on publicly posted results from about 1/3 of the polling stations in the country. An official count is necessary to determine the winner, and many fear that the delay in announcing a result is in order to cover up election rigging.
ZANU-PF and Mugabe have notoriously tampered in past elections in Zimbabwe, and there is evidencet his has happened yet agaion in this one. We know of at least one story first-hand...
You may remember when I first moved to Chimoio, I was working on a project to establish a tea plantation and processing unit in Mozambique. The project was to be carried out in conjunction with a Zimbabwean partner, a family who had been running a tea operation in the Eastern Highlands of that country for many years. They had managed to avoid expropration of their land, a somewhat miraculous feat given the fate of the majority of Zimbabwe's other white commercial farmers, but were nervous about the future and thus interested in establishing operations across the border in Mozambique.
We got word from this family that they were forced off their tea plantation in Zim last week by a group of police thugs sent from the government. Apparently, the police claimed all of the family's equipment and assets, and made them leave the country. No, this was not a land claim...this intimidation was done in order to "secure voter loyalty". Basically, vote for Mugabe and you can come back home and have your farm back. Vote for the opposition, and you can imagine how the story will end.
As I sit today and periodically check the news waiting for official election results, I can't help but feel hopeful that change will finally come to Zimbabwe. Despite intimidation tactics, despite outright vote rigging (there were reports that ZANU-PF managed to cast thousands of ghost ballots), despite people arriving at polling places to find their names strangely missing from the voter lists...despite all of this, I believe that Zimbabwe is at a point where they can no longer bear the economic burden.
I hope that the official result is that Mugabe has lost the election. Either one of the alternate candidates will do; the main point is that the old man must step down...lest he be forced out of power, for I believe that Zimbabwe's people are prepared to engage in Kenya-style violence should the results be rigged once again. Violence is never something I wish for, but in this case, I can't help but see how it would be necessary if Zimbabwe's people want to have any hope for their immediate future.