Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Ziso: 'Can I have a T-shirt?'

Zimbabwe, 23 March

There are five more days before African democracy is tested in Zimbabwe. Anyone with experience of politics in Zimbabwe will tell you that democracy in a run up to elections comes down to T-shirts. A campaign cannot run without the ubiquitous T-shirt, with the candidates face plastered on the front. At every site the request is repeated ad nauseum, “Can I have a T-shirt?” Beware the naive candidate who opens their car boot – they risk a riot of violent looting and crowds wrestling over the precious items. The local T-shirt making factory has been open all weekend printing shirts for ZANU, MDC, Makoni. The most precious ones at this point must be Mugabe’s stern portrait emblazoned “Fist of Fury” – hopefully this T-shirt will soon be a collector’s item, a little piece of African history.

The Fay Chung Senatorial Campaign Team prepare for the Saturday election: Mvurachena includes over fifty polling stations within a vast urban expanse. The upshot of Makoni’s entry into the ‘harmonized election’ is that voters will have a wide choice for their various ballots, with the option of choosing MPs, senators and presidential candidates from varying parties at the same time. The concept is refreshing after years of no real choice. Polling-agents from four different parties (ZANU, MDC1, MDC2 and Simba’s Movambo movement) will be present to ensure that rigging does not take place. This is a first for Zimbabwean elections, which have previously had only one opposition polling-agent observing the voting. Fears are still high that the vote will be stolen in the chaos, but the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has assured the candidates that the presidential count will be presented outside each polling station as soon as counting is done.

No matter how well things are prepared, chaos and surprises are predicted for the big day.

MDC supporters in red and Makoni supporters in yellow join together in unity

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