Thursday, April 10, 2008

Vote Mugabe or you die

from the UKGuardian

The patients at Louisa Guidotti hospital said there were eight men, one carrying a shotgun, another with an AK-47, others with pistols, and they went from bed to bed forcing out anyone who could walk.

Nurses were dragged away from the sick. Motorists driving by the hospital, 87 miles north-east of Harare, were stopped and taken from their cars.

About 70 people were gathered in the grounds. Then the lecture began. "This is your last chance," said one of the armed men. "You messed up when you voted. Next time you vote you must get it right or you will die."

One of the men selected people to stand and shout slogans of Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party and to sing songs from the liberation war . Those who did not do so enthusiastically were beaten. Another cocked his gun and told the crowd to point out opposition supporters.

Sandati Kuratidzi lives on the hospital grounds because his wife is a physiotherapist there. He is an activist with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change which stunned Zanu-PF by apparently defeating Robert Mugabe in the presidential election, although the electoral commission has still to release the official result 12 days later.

When Kuratidzi saw the pick-up with the armed men draw up, he knew what was coming and hid on top of a cupboard.

"They warned people that if they voted for the opposition they would be killed. They had AK-47s, shotguns, guns in their belts. People were very afraid," he said. "They were saying they were going to show an example to anyone supporting MDC and they asked the people to point out who they were but no one did. Their behaviour was inhuman."

Then the men piled back into their truck and set off for the next village....

The violence and intimidation that helped deliver perverted election victories to Zanu-PF three and six years ago were absent from the presidential and parliamentary ballot on March 29, and Mugabe lost. Now they are returning with a vengeance and the ruling party is using results from the first round as a guide to where to exert pressure....

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