Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai held his last election rally in Harare Sunday and promised that a new Zimbabwe, driven by love and not fear, is on the horizon. Mr. Tsvangirai, enjoying a huge surge of popularity around the country, is standing against President Robert Mugabe in elections next Saturday. Peta Thornycoft reports for VOA from Harare.
Tsvangiriai, founding president of the Movement for Democratic Change, told about 20,000 supporters gathered on the edge of the city they should go out and vote.
The rally was held in an open field because the police denied the MDC access to any of the city's stadiums, according to party officials.
Nevertheless, the rally was well organized. People sang popular MDC songs, some of which mock Mr. Mugabe and his colleagues in the ruling ZANU-PF party.
Tsvangirai told the crowd that Zimbabweans are beyond fear now. He said the road for the opposition has been long and painful, but that victory is at hand.
"We will stand together, we will stand for food, we will stand for jobs, for justice," he said. "We will stand for freedom as one, for a new Zimbabwe. We will line up at those polling stations and we are going to vote in our millions."
Tsvangirai said people want jobs, food and a decent life, and that the current economic chaos was caused by bad government.
He praised President Mugabe for delivering Zimbabwe from colonial rule, but said it was now time for the 84-year-old leader to go. He said that so many people would vote for the MDC next Saturday that any rigging and cheating would be overcome.
"We expect the enemies of justice to engage in every trick in the book. We are ready for them," Tsvangirai said. "We are ready for those that would like to subvert the people's victory."
On Saturday, during rallies in high density suburbs in Harare, President Mugabe blamed businessmen for what he called exorbitant prices.
He also said that after the elections he would nationalize British-owned companies and ensure that new legislation giving majority ownership of all businesses to black Zimbabweans is quickly implemented.
Zimbabweans are, for the first time, voting in four elections simultaneously including presidential, parliamentary and local government contests.
On Sunday, civil rights leaders briefed a group of observers from the Southern African Development Community or SADC.
Western observers are not being allowed to monitor these elections. And the government says it will not allow any white Western journalists to cover them.