All roads lead to Zim as election date looms

2013-07-28 14:00

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Returning voters determined to exercise their rights are not deterred by setbacks.

“Robert Mugabe is the king of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe is the king of Zimbabwe” blasts from the on-board entertainment system of the Pacific Blues coach from Johannesburg to Harare, Zimbabwe.

But not everyone in the 65-seater bus thinks of Mugabe as a king.

Samuel Matiza, one of a handful of passengers on their way to Zimbabwe to vote, doesn’t really have good things to say about Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980. “He is a f***ing asshole, and has screwed our country,” says the priest, who is based in Tzaneen, Limpopo.

Matiza, a former corporal in the Zimbabwean military, says Zimbabwe is ripe for change.

“We are looking for change in Zimbabwe. We can’t allow one person to rule for more than 20 years.”

After quitting the army in 2007, Matiza, like millions of his fellow countrymen, left Zimbabwe and headed for the bright lights of Johannesburg in search of a better future for his two children, Simbarashi (9) and Alice (2).

About 60km outside Musina, at about 1am, the Pacific Blues coach breaks down on the N1. Many go to sleep.

As day breaks, with no sign of help on the horizon, Matiza gets edgy and anxious.

But he says nothing will stop him from casting his vote.

He left his parishioners in Tzaneen and he is on his way to Zimbabwe for the sole purpose of voting. “My friend, nothing will stop me from voting.

If it means walking from here to Zimbabwe, I will gladly do so.

Who knows, my vote could very well be the one Tsvangirai needs to beat Mugabe.

“It could be the difference between change and another five years of Mugabe’s rule.”

As the day progresses, more people wake and start chatting. Swiftly, the conversation shifts to the elections in Zimbabwe.

Like Matiza, Dennis Kativu has travelled many kilometres to cast his vote. Kativu, who hails from Mashonaland East, one of Mugabe’s strongholds, is based in East London.

“I’m going home to vote. I will vote for Arthur Mutambara. If I don’t vote for Mutambara, I will vote for Mugabe.

“Tsvangirai is a bastard who is being used by whites. He is not man enough. Look at him. Since he became minister he has become big and fat. He is also a womaniser.”

Matiza and Kativu are not alone. Many others in the coach come from far-flung corners of South Africa.

Aileen Mahlaba comes from Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal, Winnie Ndebele comes from Durban, Alice Ngwenya

is from Nelspruit and Tendai Vhila comes from Bloemfontein. They are all en route to Zimbabwe to cast their votes.

Just before noon, another Pacific Blues coach arrives from Johannesburg. We jump in and set off. But the debate about Zimbabwe’s elections rages on.

Mugabe has a handful of sympathisers. Tafadzwa Chohota is a staunch Mugabe supporter.

But it is not for nothing that he backs Mugabe, for he has benefited from Zimbabwe’s infamous land grabs.

“He has given us land,” he says. “I got a piece of land from him in 2002. It’s two and a half hectares and I farm tobacco.

“We have suffered a lot because of white people. Look, he is not perfect but he is much better. He has taken us out of the yoke of slavery imposed on us by white people.”

Not everyone in the coach is going to Zimbabwe to vote.

Some, like Eric Ngwenya, will not bother.

“It’s pointless to vote. It will not change anything. Let Mugabe and Tsvangarai fight, I don’t care.”

At the Beit Bridge border post the replacement Pacific Blues bus breaks down.

But this will not deter people like Matiza.

“This is a joke, my friend,” he says. “Even if it breaks 10 more times, I know I will cast my vote come voting day.”

 Mugabe attacks ‘gay-supporting archbishop’ Desmond Tutu

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has directed his anger towards Archbishop Desmond Tutu, whom he urged to step down in disgrace because of his pro-gay stance.

“.?.?.?then we have a respectable man, an archbishop. Tutu should just step down, because he supports gays, something that is evil. We say no to gays,” Mugabe said, addressing about 20?000 supporters at his rally in Bulawayo yesterday.

Mugabe also attacked American President Barack Obama.

“Obama is one of us – African – but his support for gays is very wrong. The Americans want us to embrace gays. I say go away with your money as long as you support gays,” he added.

Mugabe has never liked Tutu. In 2009, he said Tutu was “an angry, evil and embittered little bishop”.

Mugabe is set to address his last rally today at the National Sports Stadium in Harare. But the MDC T has been dealt a heavy blow – its planned “cross over”

rally initially slated for Monday at the Harare International Conference Centre has been cancelled.

The party says the police argued that they did not have enough manpower to control crowds at the conference centre.

Zimbabwe goes to the polls on Wednesday and Mugabe is confident.

“Victory is ours,” he said as he ended his rally. – Nhlalo Ndaba

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