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Opinion: Violence looms as Zimbabwe elections approach

Power-sharing government a sham as Mugabe controls army, police and security.

“It is shocking to note,” the party’s spokesman Nhlanhla Dube said, “that the two believe that the elections issue is between them alone yet there are other players and factors that need to be considered.”

He said the move was in complete contempt of the 2008 political agreement which laid down the need for consultation between the party leaders on political decisions.

Progress has been painfully slow. The Human Rights Commission set up between the parties has danced around the issue of rogue security officers who have a known record of violence. The public media remains captive to a coterie around Mugabe that is in denial about his 2008 defeat. And Mugabe continues to make key appointments such as judges without consulting anyone.

He gave the judge who supervised the 2008 election a medal.

Invasions and seizures of white-owned farms persist threatening food production while Zimbabwe has refused to adhere to rulings from the SADC tribunal that has branded the farm confiscations as “illegal and racist.”

Tsvangirai clearly believes time is on his side. Mugabe gave a rare televised interview to Reuters press agency last week. The interview was designed by Mugabe’s handlers to show a fighting-fit leader. In fact it did the opposite. He appeared slumped in his chair and his speech was slurred. While heaping scorn on Britain and the United States, he didn’t offer a single new policy to get the country out of the hole he has dug for it.

Going for elections is more a gamble for Mugabe than Tsvangirai. A recent survey by an academic research body on voting intentions has concluded that 32 percent would vote for Tsvangirai’s MDC while only 18 percent would back Mugabe’s Zanu-PF.

Significantly, given previous violence, a large bloc of voters declined to reveal how they would vote. Tsvangirai has the support of younger voters in the country’s teeming cities. In 2008 he won 47,9 percent of the vote against Mugabe’s 43,2 percent but this was not enough to avoid a run-off that Mugabe won after Tsvangirai withdrew citing intimidation of voters.