Page last updated at 09:03 GMT, Thursday, 12 June 2008 10:03 UK

Military 'runs Mugabe campaign'

By Ian Pannell
BBC News, Zimbabwe


Undercover footage and interviews show tactics of intimidation

The BBC has obtained documents suggesting that Zimbabwe's military is actively involved in running Robert Mugabe's re-election campaign.

The documents outline plans by ruling party Zanu-PF to harass and drive out opposition supporters, especially from rural areas.

A run-off presidential vote is due to take place later in the month.

More than 60 people have been killed, thousands beaten and many more driven from their homes in related violence.

Testimony from eye-witnesses and victims from across Zimbabwe as well as internal party documents show that violence and intimidation are being used to try to guarantee the re-election of Robert Mugabe against the challenger, Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), on 27 June.

Two MDC supporters who say they were beaten by Mugabe supporters - 3/5/2008
MDC supporters say they have been attacked by Zanu-PF supporters

The documents suggest that the Joint Operations Command (JOC) is now running logistics and operations.

The JOC is made up of the heads of the military and state security organisations.

Another document lays out the party's tactics, including the use of scarce food supplies as a political weapon.

"Basic commodities should be sold from either people's shops or pro-Zanu-PF shops," it says. "Emphasis should be in party strongholds."

It talks about giving the notorious and feared war veterans, responsible for much of the violence in Zimbabwe, a "leading role in Zanu-PF campaigns".

Fight for survival

The document also outlines the use of covert operations against the MDC including harassing supporters and driving them out of Zanu-PF strongholds and declares a "no-go area" to rural constituencies for the MDC.

Detail of copy of internal Zanu-PF party document obtained by the BBC

The BBC is banned from reporting in the country, which makes it difficult to authenticate some of this material but our investigations found that all of the tactics mentioned in the document are being used by Zanu-PF and its supporters.

The Zimbabwean Deputy Minister of Information, Bright Matonga, denied that the ruling-party is responsible for the violence and he refused to comment on what he described as "illegal documents."

But speaking anonymously, a Zimbabwean police officer confirmed to the BBC that officers had been given orders to support Zanu-PF and turn a blind eye to violence perpetrated against MDC supporters.

We met in a dark car park in Harare. He told me: "We're told to vote for Zanu-PF and they told us it's not now a secret vote, you have to vote in front of your commanding officer."

He complained that the police were no longer independent: "Our police is now politically motivated, whereas it is supposed to be an organisation that stands for not taking part."

Zimbabwe's deputy information minister denies military involvement in the election

Posters supporting Robert Mugabe are plastered across the walls of the capital. The party has brought in private PR consultants to give the campaign a far more positive image.

It is a slick strategy that promotes sovereignty, independence and empowerment. But under-writing the campaign are the resources of the central bank and a monopoly of air-time in the state-controlled media.

Often the MDC and its supporters are portrayed as the perpetrators of much of the violence but all the evidence points the other way and that is also the conclusion of many observers.

The US ambassador to Harare insisted that Robert Mugabe wants to "to retain power through any means possible".

He said Zanu-PF, the military and the war veterans were responsible for most of the violence against those who voted for the MDC in the first round, "ensuring that, number one, they'll be too afraid to vote and, number two, that they're not in their district and cannot vote".

I asked him whether there was any way you could conclude that this election was either free or fair. His answer was swift: "Absolutely none."

We met people across Zimbabwe who all had almost identical stories to tell. Many had been beaten or burnt, many had broken limbs, some had relatives killed, thousands had been driven from their homes.

They were all targeted because they voted for the opposition.

Robert Mugabe has called this an "all-out war". He and his supporters are engaged in a fight for survival and what is now clear is that they will use any means necessary to achieve that.

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