Accessibility links

Zimbabwean Refugees Watch Elections from Afar


Despite world condemnation of the electoral violence in Zimbabwe and calls on President Robert Mugabe to postpone the vote, the country held a one-candidate, run off presidential election on Friday. Residents of the capital, Harare, said they were threatened with harm if they did not vote. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai had pulled out of the race because of the violence. His Movement for Democratic Change says 86 of its supporters have been murdered in the lead up to the voting. Reacting to the violence, many Zimbabweans have fled the country. Among them are thousands in refugee camps in Johannesburg, South Africa, where VOA's Mandy Clark reports.

Refugees argue over Zimbabwe's violent politics. At this camp in Johannesburg, Jonathan Zulu says he doubts things will improve back home. "I'm losing hope with the situation that is happening now in Zimbabwe," he said.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai Sunday withdrew from the presidential run-off election. He called the election a "violent, illegitimate sham" and said his supporters would risk their lives if they voted.

Zimababwean refugee Habit Matongo says President Robert Mugabe has destroyed his country, but he supports Mr. Tsvangirai's decision.

"Morgan Tsvangirai did the right thing because many of the people are dying," Matongo said.

The political crisis in Zimbabwe has swelled the number of refugees in neighboring countries. There are 1,200 here, most of them Zimbabwean. This is one of about 12 refugee camps in South Africa.

As people here watch and wait, international leaders, including the U.N. Security Council, have condemned the violence and intimidation. The security council said a free and fair election is impossible.

The Southern African Development Community, or SADC, after an emergency meeting, urged the poll be postponed.

But in this refugee camp, people say they have little faith other countries can help resolve Zimbabwe's political crisis. Godfrey Badibanga is from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Badibanga says that South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki will not be able to broker a deal. "Mugabe has ties with Mbeki, historic ties. So, when you give the negotiations to a man who is his close friend, do you think he can do any good,” he said.

Zimbabwe refugee, Togorepi Guivaviro, says he seeks divine intervention, "I just hope God intervenes and a miracle takes place," he said.

A miracle, they say, is the only way Zimbabwe can break free of a regime most here say is no longer legitimate.

XS
SM
MD
LG