There’s a small Movement for Democratic Change (MDC – the Zimbabwean opposition) campaign office in our building. Just before the 29 March election in Zimbabwe the car park here at work was frequently a hive of activity with MDC activists milling about getting ready to go out and campaign.

One of their drivers made a point of pulling into the car park with the latest MDC election campaign jingle blaring full blast from the car. A tall, lanky guy, he was always around ferrying activists to and fro. A couple of weeks after the election he was killed by Zanu PF. The car park is silent now.

Yesterday, Joseph, a 12-year-old boy arrived at my office door. He was hanging limply over the railing staring at me with blank eyes. His mother had been a regular visitor, coming once every two weeks for a handout to keep her going in this country with over one million percent inflation. Her thin body was wracked by AIDS. Last week Zanu PF militia tried to force her to go to a rally. She refused. They broke her leg. Her compromised state made it impossible for her to survive. So her orphan son has carried on the visits that his mother started.

Almost every day the office block is powered by generator. It’s seldom that we can rely on the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) to provide services. Water is a luxury too. Turn on the taps and not much happens. Because toilet paper can’t be found in regular supermarkets and stores, the building administrator has demanded that all office workers bring their own toilet paper to work. Trouble is it’s hard to find so the next best thing to wipe your bum with is The Herald newspaper; a fitting use for Mugabe’s vile, daily news distorter. But that of course leaves the toilets blocked.

Each day brings new challenges. Listening to the echoing silence of fallen comrades. Recognizing and reacting to the plight of vulnerable and orphaned children. Sometimes just turning up for work.

To read more from Bev Clark, visit Kubatana.net

Meanwhile, here is how the rest of the world is reporting the situation in Zimbabwe:

Zimbabwe: a glimmer of hope for my homeland. Finally, after years of obfuscation, hand wringing and so-called “quiet diplomacy”, Africa is beginning to raise its voice against its most errant son, Robert Mugabe. Too little, too late? Yes, if one considers that a once prosperous and peaceful country has had to be taken to the brink of civil war and economic collapse before any of Africa’s political leaders have deigned to speak out. But, no, if one agrees with the opinion now circulating in political circles that this is a defining moment for Africa and may even offer a glimmer of hope for the future of this blighted continent. – Graham Boynton, Telegraph.co.uk

Amid the despair of Zimbabwe, there is still hope. African leaders have finally come to terms with the fact that Mugabe is a shameful blot on the continent. The fact that Angola, Senegal, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda have added their voices to calls for Mugabe to listen to reason is ground-breaking in a continent where the rule is that African leaders do not criticise their peers even if they brutalise their people. The other obstructive rule has been that African leaders always side with the fellow African leaders when they are criticised by the West, especially by former colonial powers, no matter the merits of the criticisms. That rule has also now been broken. And a third rule, that fellow African movements always close ranks when another is criticised by outsiders, is also now broken. – William Gumede, The Independent

Conspiracy ‘duped’ UN into condemning election violence. Zimbabwe’s U.N. ambassador says a U.S. and British-led conspiracy fooled the U.N. Security Council into concluding the violence gripping his nation has made it impossible to hold a fair presidential election. “We see the international community, the Security Council, has been duped into believing that there is lawlessness in Zimbabwe and the opposition cannot campaign, which is not true,” Boniface Chidyausiku told The Associated Press Tuesday. – International Herald Tribune

ANC, Zuma blast Mugabe. At the UN, South Africa joined other members of the UN Security Council in slamming Mugabe’s “campaign of violence against the political opposition”. But South Africa would not support a clause proposed by the US and Britain that would have effectively recognised opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai as Zimbabwe president. The clause read: “Until there is a clearly free and fair election the only legitimate basis for a government of Zimbabwe is the outcome of the March 29 election.” – The Times (Johannesburg)

Mugabe defiant in the face of criticism. President Robert Mugabe refused Tuesday to give into pressure from Africa and the West, saying the world can “shout as loud as they like” but he would not cancel this week’s runoff election even though his opponent quit the race … Mugabe, a vigorous 84, kicked a soccer ball before thousands of cheering supporters and declared he would not back down. “We will proceed with our election, the verdict is our verdict. Other people can say what they want, but the elections are ours. We are a sovereign state, and that is it,” Mugabe said. “Those who will want to recognize us on the basis of objectivity will do so. Those who don’t, keep your judgment to yourselves. Our people are going to vote, and that vote will decide whether we have won or lost.” — Associated Press

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