Saturday, July 5, 2008

"The small piece of paper cannot take the country"

Craig Timberg at The Washington Post details Robert Mugabe and the Zimbabwe military's campaign of intimidation against the Movement for Democratic Change:

During an April 8 military planning meeting, according to written notes and the accounts of participants, the plan was given a code name: CIBD. The acronym, which proved apt in the fevered campaign that unfolded over the following weeks, stood for: Coercion. Intimidation. Beating. Displacement.

In the three months between the March 29 vote and the June 27 runoff election, ruling-party militias under the guidance of 200 senior army officers battered the Movement for Democratic Change, bringing the opposition party's network of activists to the verge of oblivion. By election day, more than 80 opposition supporters were dead, hundreds were missing, thousands were injured and hundreds of thousands were homeless. Morgan Tsvangirai, the party's leader, dropped out of the contest and took refuge in the Dutch Embassy.

The Post obtained access to the CIBD meeting notes, and relied heavily on a Zimbabwean reporter "whose name is being withheld for security reasons." Thanks to his or her bravery, we have a small window into the violent mechanics of Mugabe's renewed grip on power.