Zimbabweans Look to God for Election Miracle

Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai expects longtime leader Robert Mugabe to "engage in every trick in the book" to rig the voting for the coming presidential election.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwean refugees living in Cape Town are viewing the Mar. 29 elections with profound cynicism.

Asked who they believe will win, they answer wearily: "It's obvious" and "Mugabe will win," according to The Cape Argus.

"We need an intervention from God," Shelton Hadebe, a former tour guide in Zimbabwe, told the South African newspaper. "With the rigging and buying of votes, the chances of winning are slim for opposition candidates."

On Sunday, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) – Zimbabwe's main opposition party – accused the government of printing more than 3 million excess paper ballots for the coming election and Mugabe of attempting to rig the voting.

MDC secretary general Tendai Biti said leaked documents from government printers showed 9 million ballot papers were ordered for the 5.9 million people registered to vote in the presidential election.

"We are extremely worried about the extra ballot papers," Biti said, according to AP.

Earlier this month, an independent monitoring group said many voters in Zimbabwe's cities — strongholds of the opposition — may not have time to cast ballots in upcoming elections because too few polling stations have been provided.

A list of polling stations released by the Electoral Commission for the March 29 vote showed "a significant discrepancy" that favored the ruling party in its rural strongholds, reported the Zimbabwe Election Support Network.

The independent watchdog said Harare, for example, had 379 polling centers for about 760,000 registered voters, leaving an average number of 2,022 voting at each station over 12 hours. If there is maximum turnout, that gives each citizen an average of 22 seconds to vote.

"It would be unfortunate if the problem of too few polling stations in 2002 is repeated," said Noel Kututwa, the group's head, according to AP. During the 2002 presidential elections, tens of thousands of voters were turned away across the country after polls closed. The 2005 elections, like the 2002, was also marred by administrative chaos and plagued by allegations of vote rigging, irregularities in voters' lists as well as charges of violence and political intimidation.

Though Zimbabwe by title is a democracy, the country, under Mugabe, has crushed protests against its economic crisis. Zimbabwe's society is in ruins due to an economic meltdown with inflation over 100,000 percent. An estimated 3.5 million Zimbabweans have fled to neighboring South Africa and other countries to escape the hunger and to earn money to send back to family members still living in their homeland.

Both Tsvangirai and another presidential candidate, former Finance Minister Simba Makoni, say they are riding high on anger against record inflation and widespread shortages of all basic supplies.

Some Zimbabweans, however, say there is no point even thinking of voting this week because "they already have a winner."

"It's obvious, Mugabe will win," Ustina Charakupa, 24, told The Cape Argus. "He cheats all the time and the election will be 100 percent not fair."

Still others, including teacher and businessman turned presidential candidate Langton Towungana, believe that God will direct the country.

"[T]he most high God is the driver of this [presidential race]," he said, according to The Earth Times.

Zimbabweans will head to the polls on Mar. 29 to vote for the leader they think can lift them out of the country's economic quagmire.