Saturday, April 05, 2008

Sunday Times Report on Zimbabwe

The Sunday Times has a very interesting report on the situation on Zimbabwe. This, for one thing:

The Sunday Times has learnt the inside story of what happened last Sunday, the day after the poll. By Sunday afternoon the theoretically independent Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the body under Justice George Chiurshe which is charged with conducting the elections, communicated its initial estimates of the result to the Zanu-PF politburo: Tsvangirai 58%, Robert Mugabe 27% and Makoni 15%. These estimates were based on too narrow an urban sample and were too favourable to Tsvangirai and his MDC, but the message was clear: Mugabe had lost. The politburo, particularly Mugabe himself, hit the roof.

According to an account sourced to a commission official, Mugabe then ordered it to declare him elected with 53%. He was angry at Makoni’s “treachery” and demanded that his vote be reduced to 5%.

This produced resistance from the commission and also from the army, police and intelligence chiefs.

The commission objected that manipulation of the results on such a huge scale would be too obvious, while the security chiefs were concerned that the country might become ungovernable if the popular will was so blatantly flouted.

At this stage Thabo Mbeki, South Africa’s president, took a hand. . . .

Then there’s this picture of the bizarre and awful economy Mugabe has brought about:

Every morning begins in the towns with huge queues outside banks and building societies, for nobody may withdraw more than Z$500m a day - about £6.

Harare is the only city where you can see large-denomination banknotes scattered on the pavement. So rapid has inflation become that all notes bear an expiry date after which they are invalid and the central bank adds another nought or two to the next set of notes. People just tear up invalid notes and throw them away.

When you speak to people in the queues you realise how beaten down they are. “I have three children, all hungry. I’ve sold everything in the house except a table and our beds,” said Margaret Zimondi, a secretary.

Please continue to pray for Zimbabwe.

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