An analysis of events in Zimbabwe during May demonstrates that President Mugabe and Zanu-PF are gearing up for elections – which could be held later this year but will more likely take place during the first or second quarter of 2013.
The characteristic warning signs are all there, as the articles collected for the month clearly indicate.
- Upscaling of violence: The violence perpetrated by Zanu-PF against any perceived threat or opposition is increasing at a worrying rate, with murders once again becoming more gruesome in order to send out a powerful warning to opposition parties;
- Legal harassment: Harassment by the police of any perceived threat or opposition is building up, with cases becoming more elaborate and drawn out, forcing the MDC to devote additional time and limited resources to litigation;
- Hate speech: Hate speech is increasingly evident in the state-run media and new radio stations are being licensed to Zanu-PF sympathisers. Excessive airtime is being allocated to Zanu-PF, while opposition parties are denied access;
- Disruption of rallies: Zanu-PF is allowed to hold rallies without restriction – which people are forced to attend – while fewer opposition party rallies are approved. Increasingly, opposition rallies are disrupted or broken up completely by Zanu-PF thugs or the police;
- Armed forces’ public support for President Mugabe: Senior armed forces officers are making unconstitutional and treasonous statements to their troops and the press in order to intimidate the electorate. On 13 May, The Times (SA) warned that security forces, co-ordinated by Joint Operations Command (JOC) – which brings together army, police and intelligence chiefs – were running covert operations and campaigning underground for President Mugabe and Zanu-PF;
- Strengthening the army: Additional recruits are being recruited, despite agreement at Cabinet level that no additional troops are required;
- Extending patronage: New sources of patronage are being utilised, in particular mechanisms for drawing in the youth – evidenced by the chaotic indigenisation exercise;
- Food as a weapon: Food aid is once again being used as a weapon as there has been a catastrophic crop failure. Opposition party members are either deliberately overlooked and starved, or forced to switch allegiance to Zanu-PF;