Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cathy Buckle's Weekly Letter From Zimbabwe !

FOUR AGAINST HUNDREDS !

Sunday 29th June 2008

Dear Family and Friends,

We woke to the sound of shouting on the 27th of June as four young men, wearing Zanu pf scarves, stretched out across the width of the road and roused the neighbourhood. It was ten past six in the morning, the sun was hardly up and a cold sheet of frost lay across gardens and along roadsides. "Hey, hurry up, hurry up," the Zanu PF youths shouted; "time for voting! Let's go, let's go to vote," they yelled.

The arrogant calls were met with silence. Even in urban Zimbabwe people are deeply traumatized by the events of the past few weeks and so we stay behind closed doors. The progress of the four men could be tracked by the barking of dogs and the thought that just four young men could intimidate hundreds is a chilling reality.

The 27th of June will be remembered as a dark day in our history. How will we explain to our grandchildren that in the depth of Zimbabwe's crisis there was a Presidential election in which only one candidate was contesting? As he prepared to step into his official limousine after casting his vote for the only contesting Presidential candidate, Mr Mugabe smiled for the cameras."How are you feeling Mr President?" someone asked."Fit, very fit," he replied. "And very optimistic." Optimistic? Of winning an election without an opponent? Walking round my home town the morning after the election, there was a sombre and dejected feeling in the streets. There was no excitement or expectation and no point talking about results. With only one candidate the outcome was obvious.

One man held up his red stained finger to show that he'd voted - under protest but for his own safety. With dry sarcasm he said he'd spoiled his paper: he said he loved both candidates equally and so he'd given them both an X ! Moments later he shook his head sadly and said: "so many people will die now - there is already such hunger everywhere. Now it will be worse."

Another man lifted his red finger but said angrily: "For What?" His daughter had been told to bring 'top -up' school fees of one hundred billion dollars when schools re-opened after the elections. This amount is five times the man's monthly salary. It is his daughter's O Level year so he said he would sell yet more of his possessions to raise the money - in order to give his daughter a future.

Two young men stood on the roadside desperately trying to flag down a lift for their friend who had just come out of hospital after a severe asthma attack. Because there is virtually no public transport anymore a group of friends had clubbed together and raised the 90 billion dollars needed for a private car. 90 billion dollars to travel one way - less than ten kilometres to the hospital to save their friend's life. As the youngsters moved on, one said:" We cry for our fair country."

It took five weeks to count the votes cast in the March 29th election. It took just forty four hours to count the votes of the June 27th ballot. The results have been officially stated as follows: Robert Mugabe: 2,150,269 votes Morgan Tsvangirai : 233,000 votes Spoilt papers 131,481.At 4.17 pm on the 29th June 2008, 84 year old Mr Mugabe was declared the duly elected President of Zimbabwe.

Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.

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