Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has condemned what it describes as intimidating tactics arrests of two of its officials and a pilot ahead of this Saturdays’ general elections. This comes after police arrested an MDC parliamentary candidate and a partisan who were at the airport to receive the party’s campaign material.
The MDC is also accusing the police of being in cahoots with incumbent President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF government to intimidate the opposition to prevent its victory in the elections.
Officials of the police and the government refused to comment on the arrests. University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Professor John Makumbe tells reporter Peter Clottey that it will be difficult for the opposition to win Saturday’s elections.
“Mugabe government is also intimidating members of the opposition, members of civil society, members of the church, and so forth. And this is a very clear intimidating tactic being used to discourage members of the opposition from campaigning effectively, using materials that I suspect were actually printed outside the country, and were flown in for use in the remaining few days,” Makumbe noted.
He suggests Saturday’s general elections will not be credible.
“It is impossible. I mean that arrest of the opposition leaders is really just a tip of the iceberg because there are lots of other problems with the whole electoral process. Including allegations that something like 18 million ballot papers may have been printed by the regime (Mugabe’s government), including 600-thousand postal votes that may have been printed. Yet we know that people who qualify for postal votes do not even amount to a hundred thousand. And so where are all these other ballots papers going to? There are two many problems with the electoral process so that the elections credibility is highly questionable now,” he said.
Makumbe said it would be overly difficult for the opposition to prevent what he describes as rigging machinery of the incumbent government.
“They (opposition) will have to be vigilant, but I think there is very little they can do to thwart the rigging machinery and the tactic, which would be used by the Mugabe regime. What is very likely to happen is that even though they will find out how the election has been stolen, they will really struggle to get that passed by the court as legitimate grounds for nullifying certain results. And the courts will usually take their time, the courts can take up to five or six years by, which time Mugabe, would have finished his term of office. So there is very little that the opposition political parties can do,"Makumbe said.