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Saturday, 10 May 2008

Day by day the pressure grows

How Zanu-PF is attempting to make sure that if votes are cast, they are for Mugabe

While the bullying, beatings and killings continue in the countryside, in the towns it's a case of death threats, imprisonment, and dirty tricks. Zanu-PF appears willing to try every move in the book to make sure that if there is a full re-run of the presidential election it will end in victory for Robert Mugabe.

Whether the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and its leader Morgan Tsvangirai will agree to the re-run still hangs in the balance at the time of writing. But meanwhile the Mugabe men are going into overdrive.

In prison this morning are two journalists - Davison Maruziva, editor of the weekly independent Standard, and Howard Burditt, a Reuters photographer.Their crime, apparently, is being journalists.

Specifically, Maruziva is accused of publishing an opinion piece by Arthur Mutambara, leader of the small MDC splinter group. He's been charged on two counts under the Criminal Codification Act, which relates to "false statements prejudicial to the state."

Burditt, a Zimbabwean national, has been detained apparently for using a satellite phone to file pictures while covering the aftermath of the elections.

Joining them in jail is a lawyer, Harrison Nkomo, who sinned when defending a client of his, another journalist called Frank Chikowere, who faced charges of committing public violence. Apparently in presenting his client's case in court, Nkomo made an "insulting statement towards the state" - something it must be difficult not to do when defending someone in those circumstances.

Meanwhile my sources in the police force say their masters are going to great lengths to ensure their re-run votes all go in the right direction. Various young officers - and their wives - have been told that their voting papers will carry their serial numbers and names, and that any who vote for Tsvangirai will be shot.

To their credit, many officers are saying that their pay is now so minsicule and worthless, they will still attempt to vote out the President. "If they want to shoot me, let them do so," a young constable in Bulawayo told me defiantly.

Now the country waits to see if the re-run becomes a reality. I understand the MDC is insisting on four conditions. They are:

1. The cessation of all government violence

2. Sadc to verify all results.

3.  Results to be published within 48 hours of polling.

4.  Inte