Court case against ZEC opens amid threats from pro-Mugabe war vets

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THE MILITANT Veterans of Zimbabwe’s liberation war on Friday evening vowed to seize the remaining white-owned commercial farms if Robert Mugabe loses the expected second round of a presidential ballot.

from our correspondent in Harare

Opposition parties have taken control of parliament for the first time since Zimbabwe won its independence from Britain in 1980, but the results of the 29 March presidential ballot have not yet been officially released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

The reappearance of the war veterans on the political scene, who led the invasions of white farms in 2000 soon after Mugabe lost a referendum on a new constitution, has heightened fears that the ruling ZANU-PF will unleash state violence to coerce the electorate to ensure Mugabe wins the run off ballot.

The MDC on 4 April filed a High Court application in the capital Harare, to
force the ZEC, whose executive committee is appointed by Mugabe, to immediately release the results of the presidential vote.

Almost one week on from its most important elections since independence in 1980, the Mugabe regime was attempting to extract one final ounce of political capital from the liberation struggle that gave him his legitimacy.

The sight of the “liberation war veterans” on the streets of Harare
was like scenes from a recurring nightmare for many in this bankrupt country.

These were the feared men from the bush war who helped end white minority rule, but have been reincarnated as a paid militia, deployed to terrorise political opponents or carry out land invasions.

In a sign of the changing times, the 400-strong veterans’ parade had its own police guard – an acknowledgement from authorities that they have lost control of the cities that voted overwhelmingly for the MDC.

War veterans chairman, Jabulani Sibanda claims the last Saturday’s elections where an attempt to take Zimbabwe back to 1890 when British settlers first occupied the territory.

“It has come to our realisation that the elections were used as another war front to prepare for the re-invasion of our country. A large number of the remaining white commercial farmers were seen celebrating the alleged victory of Morgan Tsvangirai.

“Results are just figures but an invasion is physical. We will deal with
that which is tangible.” Sibanda says as freedom fighters, they feel compelled to repel the invasion. “We can not just sit back when there are all these provocations,” he said.

In 2000 Mugabe turned to former guerillas to save his political career after he had just lost a referendum.

This morning the MDC leadership was not available for comment as they where engaged in meetings to discus their urgent High court application.

Lawyers representing MDC will ask the court for an order compelling election officials to issue the results immediately, ending a delay that has raised suspicions of a tainted vote.

The MDC claims Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe and should be declared president of the economically devastated African nation, but independent observers say the MDC leader did not win an outright majority and faces a run-off against Mugabe.

The court case begin at 0800 GMT.

“We want an urgent release of the results, within four hours of the court
order,” said Nelson Chamisa, MDC spokeperson.

“We’re fighting the anxiety, disappointment, speculation and rumours as a result of this delay.”

He said his party is appealing to the United Nations to intervene to avoid
bloodshed as the country prepares for a presidential runoff.

Chamisa says that Zimbabweans are aware of the challenges of fighting a dictatorship, but added that the people need help from the international community.

The UN has to make sure that there is no violence, they should not come when there is blood in the street, blood in the villages.”

In the parliamentary elections Mugabe’s ZANU-PF won 97 seats, compared to 99 seats secured by the MDC led by Tsvangirai, while an MDC breakaway faction won 11 seats.

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