Notwithstanding the unlady-like, unwarranted and senseless attack on MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai by First Lady Grace Mugabe at a Zanu PF rally in Chiweshe this week, it is clear that the opposition is going into the July 31 harmonised elections with one hand tied behind the back against a Zanu PF behemoth.
On Thursday, Tsvangirai had to cancel scheduled campaign rallies at Murombedzi business centre (in the heartland of his main opponent President Robert Mugabe) and Chinhoyi after police allegedly denied him clearance. Here we have a legitimate party, duly registered under Zimbabwean law, but treated with disdain and unfairness.
Indeed, it is not surprising because this is not a new thing. For all we know, the same thing is happening countrywide as the Welshman Ncube-led MDC is facing similar hurdles.
Again, when permission is granted to the opposition to hold meetings, many times Zanu PF will claim to have hired the venue in advance, or provocatively hold a meeting nearby — or completely disrupt the proceedings with violence — all this under the eyes of the police and with impunity.
On the other hand, we have not heard of a single meeting, rally or demonstration by Zanu PF prohibited on those grounds. They have the run of the country undeterred because they are unhindered.
Regarding the senseless attack on the MDC-T leader by Grace Mugabe, she said: “He (Tsvangirai) is ugly both facially and in his heart.”
If anyone speaks in such terms and tone about her husband, they would be charged with “insulting the President”, never mind that Mugabe himself is renowned or infamous for crude insults such as the salvo of invective he fired at Sadc facilitation team spokesperson Lindiwe Zulu last week.
As if this was not unfair enough, the blatant vote-buying at such rallies through distribution of foodstuffs and other goodies would be frowned upon in true constitutional democracies.
But then Zanu PF pays lip service to constitutionalism. That is why earlier this year party chairman Simon Khaya Moyo went to — of all places — China to get “campaign tips”.
Really, what tips can they get from a one-party state except on crushing the opposition? In their heart of hearts, they are dictators.
It is clear that they are on a mission to rape the will of the people. They want to crush the spirit of the opposition. They are determined to win the election by hook or by crook. If things go on like this, the election won’t settle matters. A stalemate will be a likely prospect.
We have pointed this out for the benefit of the Sadc Parliamentary Forum election observer mission which arrived in the country this week so that they will not be deceived into normalising the abnormal situation.
They should be promptly loud and clear whenever they come across any shenanigans rather than produce a report after the elections when irreversible harm has been done — like the useless report compiled by South African generals about the atrocious conduct of sections of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces in the bloody 2008 poll.
Sadc, you are obliged to name and shame whoever strays from the straight and narrow — including your official hosts.