Mugabe cheers himself up as militants hunt down non voters

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Massive voter apathy has marred Zimbabwe’s a one-sided presidential run-off as they heeded MDC’s call of pulling out.

This leaves the only candidate Robert Mugabe facing mounting world condemnation as he defied calls to potspone the election which the opposition says is a farce.

Voting began shortly after 0500 GMT and turnout was thin at some polling stations in Harare a sharp contrast to March election when people began lining up from the early hours.

Polling is due to end at 1700 GMT.

By lunch time, at one polling station in central Harare, only 10 people have voted compared to more than 3000 on March 29, said one polling agent.

There is a heavy police presences in the streets.

The poll has been widely condemned and a security committee of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) called for the vote to be postponed, saying Mugabe’s re-election as the only candidate could lack legitimacy.

But Mugabe, 84, planning to extend his 28-year-old uninterrupted rule, remained defiant and even ridiculed African leaders who said he should delay the election.

Political analysts have already forecasted that voter turnout will not to be more than 5 percent.

Ordinary people say by voting they would be legitimiseing Mugabe’s illegitimate grip to power.

Show me your thumb

However, there are reports that some Zanu PF thugs have started an operation called Show me your thumb.

The youths are targeting people without the indelible ink on the thumps, a mark that one has voted.

Those without are being threatened with beatings, come night fall.

Mugabe has barred observers from Western countries critical of his government and all but refused entry to hundreds of foreign journalists who were keen to cover the election.

A grouping of local observers has said its members were harassed and intimidated by government supporters and that they would not observe Friday’s vote.

Meanwhile, Mugabe voted at a Harare polling station.

“I feel very fit and very optimistic,” a beaming Mugabe told reporters afterward before getting in his Mercedes limousine to leave with his wife, Grace, 44.

He made no other comment.

His three children were also at the polling station at a primary school in the Highfields section of the capital – where Mugabe routinely votes.

He used to live in the working-class neighbourhood, which played a key role in the country’s liberation movement during the fight against white rule.

The 84-year-old leader shook hands with several officials before going inside. He did not greet any of the 30 voters in line.

Once inside, he could be seen joking with poll officials.

About 50 security personnel, including military, police and bodyguards, arrived as part of Mugabe’s convoy.

On the road to the school, armed soldiers had taken up positions in strategic areas.

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