Zimbabwe Elections 2005

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Zimbabwe's last parliamentary election, held in 2000, transfixed the attention of the international community. A substantial number of column inches were devoted to the campaign of farm occupations and human rights abuses that preceded the ballot -- and the allegations of vote rigging that followed. Now, the Southern African country is going to the polls for its next legislative election, on Thursday.

Birgit Kidd is having lunch with her torturer. The 60-year-old still bears scars from the attack by agents of the Central Intelligence Organisation, the feared Zimbabwean security police, last year. Despite a dislocated shoulder, cuts requiring 16 stitches, and severe bruising to her knee, the diminutive blonde activist has not been cowed into submission.

Jostling for votes on opposition turf in Beit Bridge and Gwanda with less than a few days to go before the March 31 poll, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has continued to drum up his anti-Blair rhetoric. But on this leg of his campaign blitz, he added another "imperialist" target to his list: the Oppenheimer family. Mugabe took a swipe at mining magnate Nicky Oppenheimer, whom he described as selfish.

"I came here in search of a job. Everyone says that life in South Africa is good. It used to be good in Zimbabwe, but that's all gone now." -- A Zimbabwean farm worker Clever Tarindwa told the Zimbabwe Independent, after being caught trying to cross the border into South Africa. See what Zimbabwe's press has to say.

"It was 4am on Tuesday and opposition candidate Iain Kay was driving to his hometown near Harare. Two rallies had been planned. But by the time the sun had set, the police had detained more than two hundred people and Kay had returned to the interrogation centre where he had been tortured last year. The MDC still faces violence and intimidation, but, for now at least, it refuses to stay silent.

"The only decent meal I have is when I get back home after work, but often we sleep on empty stomachs when our groceries run out. But I am not alone in my suffering, not that it is any consolation. Many of my friends and relatives living here in Glen View have carbon copy lives." In the run up to Zimbabwe's elections little attention is paid to ordinary people. Amson Hwandih shares his story.

Tsholotsho has become a symbolic battleground in the Zimbabwean elections with the ruling Zanu-PF, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and independent candidate Jonathan Moyo, former information minister, vying for the parliamentary seat in the March poll. This otherwise sleepy town has impacted like no other on the country’s political landscape.

The African National Congress is presenting a unified front on the March 31 elections in Zimbabwe, but behind the scenes there is increasing debate in the ruling party about how to deal with the political and economic crisis north of the Limpopo. Many in the ANC are increasingly uncomfortable with the approach of the government and the party.

Never since independence has Zimbabwe desperately needed President Robert Mugabe as much as it does now. The country, the ruling party and the opposition are all in chaos and only he can get the nation out of this hole. Zimbabwe faces an acute leadership crisis that only Mugabe has the capacity to resolve, if he so decides. He Mugabe still has the nation’s future in his hands.

"The polarisation we see within the international community ... replicates the polarisation within the country itself ... the lack of consensus on the Zimbabwean question has been a major stumbling block." -- Zimbabwe political analyst Eldred Masunugure, in the Financial Gazette. Compare this report with others from Zimbawe's media.

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