Movement For Democratic Change Visits Brisbane
Sekai Holland and Tendai Biti from Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change were in Brisbane the night before CHOGM for an informal talk on their reasons for participation in both "Mugabe's Election" and CHOGM...the MDC holds the greatest oppositional threat to Mugabe's dictatorship simply through the power of the vote and will be running candidate Morgan Tsvangirai, a former trade union leader in the elections, March 9 and 10. Ola Henquist reports for Indymedia Brisbane.
Two leaders in the MDC were visiting Brisbane for an informal talk at Emma's Bookshop last Thursday Night, the night before the commencement of CHOGM. Sekai Holland, Secretary of International Affairs and food relief program leader, and Tendai Biti, a constitutional lawyer and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs with the MDC spoke for over 1 hour to a small but committed and interested crowd of Brisbanites in West End.
Biti's visit to CHOGM, Mrs. Holland stated was absolutely important to the cause of democracy in Zimbabwe, as he is a respected activist and politician. The two leaders were here, they said, because although they did not have official rights of audience at CHOGM, they wanted to meet with leaders to champion the cause of free elections, free speech, economic growth and end to corruption which has torn Zimbabwe apart since the rule of Mugabe has become more severe. "The crisis is this...people are starving," said Biti before remaining, for the first time in the informative evening, going dead silent.
Mrs. Holland proceeded to describe the mobile community kitchens formed by womens' groups to feed rural blacks and urban poor; how the kitchens are often temporary, being closed down by army or police or harassed into oblivion, and how the women have developed kitchen kits which are easily disguised as luggage on car racks or which are otherwise easy to move.
The Zimbabwean Information Centres in Brisbane and Zimbabwe are helping to fund the food relief programs.
In addition to these crises is the corrupt election climate which Biti soundly denounced. The fixing of ballots, stealing and stuffing of ballot boxes, deliberate miscounts and two-day elections which allow for people to vote twice are among some of the intimidation practices currently in place. In addition, Zimbabwe, with one of the highest rates of AIDs related deaths, has 1,000,000 dead people still registered to vote and still "voting" in each election.
"We are participating as the MDC in this election because so many have died for the cause of democratic change that not to participate would be to betray them...we are also participating because we know we can win, " stated Biti with conviction.
"We want to correct any confusion caused by the SBS Dateline TV program which broadcast the ludicrous allegation that Mr. Tsvangirai has plotted to kill President Mugabe," said Mrs.Holland on the eve of her departure.
"We want delegates to CHOGM to fully appreciate the scale of violence and vote-rigging now underway in Zimbabwe, and the inadequacy of international election monitoring force," said Mrs. Holland. "Our first priority is that the people have a chance to vote, and despite the massive obstacles in their path, to elect Mr. Tsvangirai and restore the massive obstacles in their path, to elect Mr. Tsvangarai and restore democracy and economic activity. Whatever happens, the movement for democracy in Zimbabwe will need the support of the Commonwealth and the whole international community."
- For more Indymedia coverage of CHOGM see… http://www.brisbane.indymedia.org.au/