Page last updated at 06:05 GMT, Thursday, 27 March 2008

Zimbabwe Zanu-PF loyalist 'duped'

Zanu-PF supporters waving flags during the 2008 election campaign

Zimbabwean subsistence farmer Tendai (not his real name) told the BBC three years ago that he remained a supporter of the ruling party despite losing his job on a commercial farm in the land redistribution programme.

Ahead of elections on 29 March, he talks about life and politics in the rural areas.

People are praying for change - we need some change, no matter where it comes from.

What he is telling us is not sadza [maize meal], we need sadza; it's not sugar, we need sugar
People at a Zanu-PF rally

The change will come from the people who are angry, not hungry, but angry - very angry.

To my surprise I am also praying that we must change the leader.

I have always said you must respect your elders, but they are clinging to what is wrong.

They don't have mercy for others: they are not making room for the younger generation that they can make a good life; they are not making things easy for them.

In their hearts people in the rural areas are saying: "The old man should go."

Tendai crouching by his vegetable crop
Tendai has been a Zanu-PF supporter all his life

They are angry because there are no materials to plant. Firstly no seeds - then if they find seeds, there is no diesel to do the ploughing.

Only those who had cattle could plough; those that planted without ploughing had it all eroded away by the rain.

But I don't blame the heavy rains: I blame the lack of input.

I myself had to go to black market to sell three cows in order to buy fertiliser.

Free campaigning

I am lucky, other people don't have much to sell - there are many who have no crops at all.

Tendai with a handful of maize

When we last spoke, if crops failed, people had others they could turn to for help - some of the old [commercial] farmers were still here helping their ex-workers or there were people who had profited from the land redistribution.

But now all the people who could help can no longer help, there is no back-up.

The election campaign to my surprise is free - the opposition can campaign for the first time without trouble and people are supporting the other party openly and are criticising the ruling Zanu-PF party.

I was at a Zanu-PF rally where a minister was campaigning and heard people saying: "What he is telling us is not sadza [maize meal], we need sadza; it's not sugar, we need sugar."

They were lifting their hands in support, but under their breath they were swearing.

I've been voting and voting and voting, only to find I've been duped
I am not sure what to make of Simba Makoni [a former finance minister who is standing for president against incumbent Robert Mugabe] - there is doubt about him because he declared his candidacy late.

In my opinion we need a clean sweep - let the change be with the opposition so that there is a complete change without suspicion.

Even the sons of the war vets, the sons of the parliamentarians - some of them they are in the Movement for Democratic Change.


But I'm thinking the presidential competition is really between Makoni and the big man [President Robert Mugabe].

Tendai's wife cooking sadza
Tendai's granary has enough to feed his family

I will cry when we lose because I have been with Zanu-PF for the whole of my life, but I am not going to vote.

I will vote for God and I will pray so the voters will choose the right leader.

My feeling is that I've been voting and voting and voting, only to find I've been duped. I've been voting for nothing, now I'm going to pray for something.

Like the prophet Elijah in the Bible, he prayed hard for rain and it came after three years of drought, so I will pray that whoever wins will do something for us.

Black-market life

The reason why I am neutral is that I have respect for the old man that I can't completely condemn him - because of him I am the way I am [living in a free country].

So I will pray for him so that he understands. Then I will pray for the other guy that when he comes in he mustn't destroy the good things that have been built, he must reunite the people and rebuild the country.

Only one of my sons is going to vote. They cannot make a living here - it's a black-market life. I have changed my mind and think they have to go outside the country now.

They're young, they should work for their lives, but I still think they must come back afterwards to live and invest in Zimbabwe so they can have a rural home, cows and ploughs.

Even I would consider going abroad to work for a short time if after the election if I see that all my plans are shattered by the results.


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