Day of Days
Why this seventh day of the election will prove to be the most significant
Harare, Zimbabwe, Friday April 4, 8.0 am
Raids on the opposition headquarters, foreign journalists arrested, hundreds more riot police and paramilitaries on the streets of the city - all indications that today will prove to be a pivotal day for both this election and the whole future of Zimbabwe.
Two foreign journalists are understood to have been taken away by the authorities, including one from the New York Times. The rooms at the Melkies hotel used by the MDC were ransacked by police. The increased activity was generally seen as the start of a state crackdown as the prospect of a runoff vote for the Presidency increases by the hour.
Today the results of the Presidential election are due to be released at last. Neither of the two main candidates, Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC, are expected to gain the necessary over-50 per cent vote to win outright. Zanu-PF are promising that Mugabe will contest a runoff. Other rumours say that, having lost the parliamentary elections, he will accept final defeat and go.
Mugabe will chair a meeting of his party's politburo this morning. when the final decision about a runoff will be taken.
This intense activity in public is mirrored by equally frantic endeavours behind closed doors, in particular behind the doors of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, where notorious governor Gideon Gono, the man many hold as responsible for the country's financial melt-down, seems to be in a state of panic.
My source within the bank says that Gono, who usually turns up for work at around ten in the morning, is now in his office by 7.30. There he and his staff are ransacking files that go back many years and cover many strange dealings for which he and other ministers have been responsible.
The files are loaded into cars, and rushed away. I am told that a big bonfire can be seen burning at the back of Gono's Glen Lorne house.
The Central Intelligence Organisation, Mugabe's dreaded secret police, have also had agents at the bank, snatching other files which were taken to KG6 army barracks. Many of these are believed to contain details of illegally imported motor vehicles.
In particular Gona is said to be keen to destroy files relating to Flatwater Investments, a company through which the governor himself is alleged to have purchased a Mercedes Benz, and which is believed to be involved in other doubtful deals.
My source within Zanu-PF said there was also anxiety in the party about destroying files relating a party hit squad called Department 53, used as an assassination tool to kill both opposition activists and troublesome members of its own party.
This overall need to remove evidence of past misdeeds is one reason why the government has delayed the announcement of the election results for so long. Today all that should finally come to an end.