Zimbabwe’s passive protest against Mugabe: low turnout

posted at 9:55 am on June 27, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Robert Mugabe held the sham run-off election today despite the withdrawal of his rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, and the condemnation of the international community.  His electoral victory was assured when Tsvangirai refused this week to contest the election after an orgy of violence against his supporters and MDC leaders by the army and Mugabe’s militias.  Zimbabwe appears ready to hand him a moral spanking, though, as turnout has been embarrassingly low:

Zimbabwe’s one-candidate election drew a low early turnout on Friday after President Robert Mugabe went ahead with the vote despite widespread international condemnation. …

Voting began shortly after 1 a.m. EDT and turnout was thin at many polling stations in the capital Harare, unlike parliamentary and presidential elections in March when people queued from the early hours. Polling was due to end at 1 p.m. EDT.

“There is no doubt turnout will be very low,” said Marwick Khumalo, head of monitors from the Pan African Parliament.

The police have begun pressuring people to vote in order to bolster Mugabe’s standing.  In an ironic twist, the dye on the fingers of those who have voted allows authorities to find refuseniks and intimidate them into the polling booths, a reverse of the situation in Iraq in 2004, when millions of Iraqis cast votes and had their fingers dyed in defiance of those who attempted to intimidate them into silence.  And in a demonstration of Mugabe’s destruction of the Zimbabwean economy, far more people queued to buy bread than to vote.

Years ago, I read about an African tradition of the “empty chief”.  When a village decides that a chief no longer should lead and the chief refuses to accept that decision, the people simply depart the village, leaving the chief in charge of himself and humiliated before the world.   The people of Zimbabwe are trying to give us the modern equivalent of this tradition.

Mugabe’s legitimacy has entirely dissipated.  He now holds power through naked terrorism instead of the consent of the governed.  The people of Zimbabwe are desperately trying to signal this to the rest of the world by refusing to participate in his latest attempt to cover his dictatorship in a sheen of democracy.  When will the world act in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe?


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The face of evil.

Akzed on June 27, 2008 at 10:04 AM

P.Diddly says ” Mugabe or Die!!”

redrock on June 27, 2008 at 10:07 AM

Last night on BBC World News they had a piece on asylum seekers hold up at the South African embassy. They were asking SA why they aren’t trying to help them keep breathing. It was pretty sad as the news cam panned away at the end of the story and showed all the people afraid to step outside the gates. You just know that tomorrow morning, after the election, that SA is going to throw them back out to the wolves.

Limerick on June 27, 2008 at 10:09 AM

why don’t we start an insurgency like we did in afghanistan?

oh yeah we don’t want to be accused of racism…

right4life on June 27, 2008 at 10:24 AM

Withdraw from the UN. There is nothing there of value – throw them out of our country. They are an embarrassment to house here.

Jaibones on June 27, 2008 at 10:25 AM

USA/Clinton viaNATO bombed Serbia where the “righteous” line was grey, all things being equal MEANING tit for tat was the culprit and Monica was the motivation for MSM distraction. The democrat American progressive fascists burnt the Branch Davidians to death destroying their entire sanctuary, and the MSM spun the “wacko” propaganda so we’d look away. Given our GOP administration, our current national ability to change the Zimbabwean plight is nill given our commitment in Iraq/Afghanistan. The MSM couldn’t care less about the needy in Zimbabwe. The UN never effectively prevents any catastrophic annihilation of populations. Who would replace Mugabe even if he were assassinated by his own? Africa! The world powers lust for you, but not your population. Schade!!!

maverick muse on June 27, 2008 at 10:29 AM

When will the world act in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe?

When we stop tossing around fluffy notions like “the world” taking “action” then perhaps we can start thinking seriously about what is involved.

LimeyGeek on June 27, 2008 at 10:58 AM

The latest Ass. Press story has a much stronger tone.

HARARE, Zimbabwe – Marshals led voters to polling stations and bands of government supporters harassed people in the street Friday as Zimbabwe held an internationally discredited, one-candidate presidential runoff marked by intimidation.

phreshone on June 27, 2008 at 11:08 AM

Years ago, I read about an African tradition of the “empty chief”. When a village decides that a chief no longer should lead and the chief refuses to accept that decision, the people simply depart the village, leaving the chief in charge of himself and humiliated before the world. The people of Zimbabwe are trying to give us the modern equivalent of this tradition.

The same thing seems to be happening here in The US of A. What was the percentage of people that voted in the last election?

Corsair on June 27, 2008 at 2:34 PM

The low turnout becomes even more significant in light of this report from the British Times:

Last night Zimbabweans, many of whom work far from home, were returning to their villages and townships after receiving threatening summonses from the ruling Zanu (PF) to report before the vote. Farm workers in Chegutu, southwestern Zimbabwe, said that they had been told to arrive at polling stations at 6am, an hour before voting begins, and stay there until after the results were posted.

“If there is one MDC vote they will find that person and cut off his or her head,” Ben Freeth, a white farmer quoted his workers as telling him. “ ‘It is a serious threat’ were the words that they used to tell me.”

The same message was delivered to voters in Chiredzi, in the southeast of the country, who were handed serial numbers of their ballot papers and told that their votes would be traced and punishment meted out if they were found to have voted the “wrong way”.

Let’s hope Tsvangirai was right when he said that “The people’s victory may be delayed but it won’t be denied.”

JM Hanes on June 27, 2008 at 4:00 PM

the ruling Zanu (PF)

Its Zanu-PF. They’re two different orgs joined together. Geez come on The Times, make an effort.

aengus on June 27, 2008 at 6:18 PM

Few comments on this topic and no articles on the Taliban’s threat to take Peshawar Pakistan and cut supply lines to our troops in Afghanistan. Does our public care about anything except the presidential election?

Per comments in the LongWarJournal.com website: “Pakistan has been and still is providing 60,000 US and NATO troops a main supply route into Afghanistan. (Karachi to Islamabad to Pashawar to Jalalabad to Kabul). Half of all supplies to Afghanistan go this route. Air transport alone cannot replace it and all other land routes are poor in comparision.”

Peshawar is in grave danger and the Pakistani army has been ignoring Baitullah Mesud’s men that threaten to take it. Where is anything in the MSM.

KW64 on June 27, 2008 at 11:09 PM