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Wednesday, March 30, 2005
  Democracy Mugabe Style
Telegraph | News | Zimbabwe opposition's 'tell a friend' plan to foil vote riggers: "'Write down the result, tell a friend, then run like hell!' This was the order to polling agents for Zimbabwe's opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change, before they began moving off to monitor more than 8,000 polling stations ahead of tomorrow's general election.

It is designed to spread a word-of-mouth picture of the results at each polling station before they are fed into a central election office in Harare controlled by some of President Robert Mugabe's most loyal aides.

MDC secretary Paul Themba-Nyathi
MDC official Paul Themba-Nyathi

The octogenarian president is said to have everything in place to ensure victory. Critics say polling stations will be run by cowed officials, with voter rolls bloated with phantom voters.

In isolated rural areas and farms, villagers have been threatened with being denied food or being sacked if they are found voting for the opposition. The media dare not stray from supporting him.

Officially, four large groups of foreign observers will monitor the election but they are all linked to supporters of Mr Mugabe, while any organisations critical of the regime have been banned.

Three are dominated by members of South Africa's ruling African National Congress, whose leader, President Thabo Mbeki, supports Mr Mugabe."
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