The voice of Zimbabwe's voters

As elections approach, polls show the two major contenders Mugabe and Tsvangirai locked in a dead heat.

    The voice of Zimbabwe's voters
    Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party promises to create one million jobs in five years if elected [Gift Phiri/Al Jazeera]

    Harare, Zimbabwe - The countdown to one of the most closely watched elections in southern Africa is underway. 

    As the clock ticks down to Zimbabwe's July 31 polling day, both major campaigns have launched mass rallies and published manifestos in a bid to pump up their supporters.

    Voter registration ends on Tuesday, however, and many Zimbabweans have described the process as chaotic and slow. Opposition groups have alleged thousands of dead people are still on active voter databases and expressed fears that vote-rigging could come into play. 

    President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party released its manifesto last Friday in the capital, Harare, promising to accelerate a programme to win majority control of foreign-owned companies operating in the country.

    Mugabe, 89, says his controversial "indigenisation" drive of more than 1,000 companies will create $7.3bn in revenue and more than 2.2 million jobs. 

    The Mugabe campaign worked desperately to ensure that a stadium in the capital, Zimbabwe Grounds - where the country's first independence celebrations were held in 1980 - was filled to the rafters.

    Just 100km east of the capital, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's opposition MDC party packed the Rudhaka Stadium on Sunday promising to defeat Mugabe at the polls. Tsvangirai won more votes than Mugabe in the first round of the 2008 presidential elections - but then withdrew from the race before the second round of voting after deadly violence broke out.

    Tsvangirai, 61, pledged to create one million jobs in the first five years if elected and to help Zimbabwe's economy to grow to $200bn by 2040.

    The parties are in a statistical dead heat in the most recent polls, with only a few percentage points separating them. All predictions are within the margin of error, meaning these last-minute attempts to mobilise supporters may mean the difference between victory and defeat.

    Amid the multitudes, the singing, the crush and the excitement, Gift Phiri spoke to supporters of both parties. 

    Francis Lubombo, job seeker
    Francis Lubombo [Gift Phiri/Al Jazeera]

    Zanu-PF is winning this election without a doubt. We need to put the economy in the hands of blacks.

    [The] indigenisation programme is very good because it empowers the masses.

    It gives us the right to self-determination. It gives us control of all our natural resources, and that's a good thing.

    If by some unforeseen circumstance we don't win this election, our liberation legacy is gone and that will be a sad day for Zimbabwe.

    Daniel Shumba, retired colonel, businessman and aspiring legislator
    Daniel Shumba [Gift Phiri/Al Jazeera]

    Point number one, on issues and policies, Zanu-PF has been clear and more consistent. The MDCs have not been able to deliver on their rhetoric. The Western-sponsored sanctions, which were meant to support the MDC agenda, have failed to impact directly on Zanu-PF, and has instead caused and contributed to the economic misery of many ordinary Zimbabweans, which blame falls squarely on the MDC table.

    The MDCs have remained in an opposition mode even while in government, hence Zanu-PF has been able to outsmart them in terms of strategy. They are more obsessed in disagreeing with Zanu-PF than in actualising their pre-election promises.

    Mai Moyo, housewife
    Mai Moyo [Gift Phiri/Al Jazeera]

    The president has the best interests of this country at heart and deserves another term.

    We are obviously winning this election with a very, very wide margin.

    Zanu-PF brought freedom and independence; no one can dispute that.

    Many comrades died while fighting to free this country. So I will vote for that. 


    Psychology Maziwisa, youth leader and junior spokesman
    Psychology Maziwisa [Gift Phiri/Al Jazeera]

    Our [Zanu-PF] record speaks for itself. We are the only party with genuinely pro-poor policies. Over the last five years, we have preoccupied ourselves with issues that advance the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe.

    And we know what it is that the people want. They want their independence, sovereignty, peace, unity, development, economic prosperity, housing for all, land reform and above all, they want the economy to be exclusively in their hands.

    And only Zanu-PF is capable of answering all those concerns. We have the fortune of having a moral, principled and consistent leader in President Mugabe, a leader who leads by example and who always puts national interest ahead of his own interests. This is in clear contradiction with what we see in the MDC-T. There has been rampant corruption over the past five years, amoral leadership, and clear failure to meet their own promises.

    Helen Mudzudze, businesswoman
    Helen Madzudze [Gift Phiri/Al Jazeera]

    The MDC will win this election because it a people’s party. It has done a lot for us during the life of the inclusive government. We have water which was no longer there, we have foodstuffs in our shops, and our roads are in a better position. Schools have been opened and textbooks are now there.

    Under Zanu-PF government, it was difficult to get a good meal on any given day. When the new government is formed, we hope to see jobs created and we hope to see more water and sewer problems solved in Harare.

    We are hoping that president Tsvangirai will win and form his own government without Zanu-PF. We want accommodation, free education.

    Tendai Majese, farmer
    Tendai Majese [Gift Phiri/Al Jazeera] [Al Jazeera]

    We received textbooks from this government, we have seen our health sector being revitalised, and we have seen teachers going back to work. Before the inclusive government, schools were closed, there was violence all over, but the MDC brought peace and stability in our country.

    The MDC will win because it has the support of the people and the masses want jobs. Zanu-PF destroyed this country through corruption, but the MDC is against that.

    When the MDC gets into power, I want more jobs, I want our children to get free primary education and ensure that we have a running education system. We need better roads and good health systems.

    Spiwe Chinyama, mother
    Spiwe Chinyama [Gift Phiri/Al Jazeera]

    I am expecting a resounding victory for the MDC party. Zanu-PF failed to do anything for us in the past 33 years. We are living like slaves in our own country.

    I am looking forward to the implementation of the party’s economic policies that improve the being of our people. The MDC part of government did a lot for us, particularly in rural areas like Wedza - the hospital is now functioning because of the MDC government. We are now able to have a good breakfast all because of the MDC. We expect to have development of our roads in our areas.

    As a woman, I expect that women will be considered better citizens and be given an opportunity to be equal partners in all social developmental programmes. We are going to vote overwhelmingly for the MDC because we believe in its plans and policies. The jobs plan and how to transform the rural setup definitely attracts us to the party. We want free maternity service at our clinics.

    Solomon Madzore, youth leader
    Solomon Madzore [Gift Phiri/Al Jazeera]

    MDC-T will ensure jobs for the youths, and we are prepared to shed blood if Mugabe tries to rig this election.

    We will defend our vote.

    Mugabe is dreaming when he says he will pull Zimbabwe out of SADC [Southern African Development Community].

    SADC gave him a political life after his defeat at the hands of president Tsvangirai [in 2008 elections].


    SOURCE: Al Jazeera



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