Zimbabwe's high court on Saturday lifted a ban on a rally for the
opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), scheduled
to take place on Sunday. For VOA, Peta Thornycroft reports from Harare
that this is the first rally that the leader of the MDC, Morgan
Tsvangirai, planned to attend since the campaign for the run-off
With the pre-poll violence escalating, many voters are worried about Sunday's MDC rally in Harare.
rally is the opposition's main event before the June 27 run-off between
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe. The MDC says
at least 70 of its members have been killed since the first round of
elections on March 29, in which Mr. Tsvangirai tallied more votes than
Mr. Mugabe, but not enough to avoid a runoff.
People in the
street said Saturday they would not go to the rally for fear they would
be injured. But that would not stop them from going to the polls to
vote for the MDC's Tsvangirai on Friday, they said.
Police have banned a series of opposition gatherings, leading the MDC to say it was being forced to campaign in virtual secrecy.
Mr. Mugabe Friday denounced MDC claims that his supporters are
conducting a campaign of violence and terror ahead of the vote. He told
supporters during a rally in the city of Bulawayo Friday the claims are
a lie, and said the MDC is making the accusations so they can later
discredit the vote.
The 14-nation Southern Africa Development
Community (SADC) is sending 380 monitors to Zimbabwe for the vote.
Zimbabwe has refused to admit Western observers and ignored Britain's
request that international rights officials be allowed into the
nation. Mr. Mugabe's government has also slashed the number of
Zimbabwean observers who will be on hand for the election to 2,700,
according to the Zimbabwe Elections Support Network, which had nearly
10,000 observers for the March election.
Tsvangirai has been
detained five times during his campaign and MDC Secretary-General
Tendai Biti remains in custody facing a treason charge and other
offenses. Biti is accused of leaking results of the March elections
prematurely. He faces a death sentence if convicted.
is to announce on Monday whether it will pull out of the race before
Friday's poll. Tsvangirai is reported to be under pressure to pull out
in view of the escalating violence. MDC party insiders, however, say
they are sure that Morgan Tsvangirai will remain and not pull out.