· Mugabe warned of Kenya style revolt
· Opposition threatens wide action if poll victory stolen
· President says he will not allow rivals to take power
Chris McGreal in Harare
Zimbabwe's opposition says it will bring the government to its knees with Kenya style mass protests if President Robert Mugabe carries out extensive plans to rig tomorrow's presidential and parliamentary elections. But Mugabe has vowed to use the army to crush any demonstrations and warned Zimbabweans not to waste their votes on opposition candidates who would never be allowed to take power.
Mugabe, 84, would struggle to extend his 28-year rule in a clean election, amid widespread hunger, mass unemployment, 100,000% inflation and a currency that devalues so fast that the few people with jobs are paid in billions of Zimbabwe dollars. Election monitoring groups say the ruling Zanu-PF party has printed millions of extra ballots, intimidated rural voters by threatening their food supply, permitted police into polling booths to "help" voters, and rigged the electoral roll.
Among those registered to vote is Desmond Lardner Burke, who was born a century ago and as justice minister in the white Rhodesian government jailed Mugabe as a terrorist. Lardner Burke died years ago in South Africa.
Ian Makoni, the election director for Morgan Tsvangirai, the presidential candidate for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, who narrowly lost the 2002 ballot amid widespread fraud, said the MDC would not repeat its mistake of six years ago.
From a reader: Zimbabwe may well come apart along Kenyan lines, and collapse into ethnic conflict. As in all of black Africa, politics in Zimbabwe is dominated by tribalism, and since it was founded has seen Mugabe's Shona kinsmen lord it over the Matabele (Ndebele), who mainly supported white rule in what was Rhodesia. Even the name "Zimbabwe" is a Shona slight against the Matebele: the Shona think Great Zimbabwe, a broken down series of walls and buildings, was the seat of a great Shona empire. Shortly after Mugabe's crew won power, his government launched the Gukurahundi, a Shona word meaning "the early rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains." This Gukurahundi consisted of the systematic ethnic cleansing of Matabele from choice lands and the Shona genocide of an estimated 10,000 to 30,000 Matabele civilians. The Gukurahundi against the Matabele was similar to Mugabe's genocidal acts and ethnic cleansing of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe's whites, which led directly to the present economic madhouse, where Mugabe rules atop the ruins of what was once the breadbasket of Africa.
In Kenya the dominant Kikuyu Bantu people have been subjected to slaughter at the hands of Barack Obama's Nilotic Luo cousins in the wake of the rigged "election." Similarly, Zimbabwe may see a collapse into ethnic warfare between Mugabe's Shona loyalists and warlike Matabele, who are cousins of the Zulus.
If the situation in Zimbabwe wasn't so tragic, it would be humorous to witness the current spectacle of white liberals, who did all they could to destroy white Rhodesia, now acting shocked and surprised at the nightmare they helped to create. Part of the reason for their vehemence is the fact that these kinds of people don't like to admit to themselves that their worldview is not only illogical, but adds immeasurably to human suffering. They hope that if only this one evil dictator, Mugabe, is gone, Zimbabwe will somehow defy the odds and become, finally, THE single example of a successful state in black Africa.