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The BBC's Jim Fish
"The impatience for change is tangible"
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The BBC's Mike Williams
"Everyday we are hearing of more beatings"
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Tuesday, 20 June, 2000, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
Zimbabweans feel 'let down'
Independent MP Margaret Dongo looks out from her vandalised window
Even MPs like Margaret Dongo are not immune from violence and intimidation
With elections just days away, Zimbabwe's Government has acknowledged that people in towns and cities feel disenchanted with it.

There is no need for violence, otherwise you are doing a disservice to the same people you aspire to lead

Commonwealth election observers

The campaign manager of the ruling Zanu-PF party, Jonathon Moyo, told the BBC he expected the opposition to win 18% of the vote - though he said this would only translate into three seats in parliament.

His estimate contrasts with an independent opinion poll last week, which forecast the opposition winning about 70 of the 120 seats being contested.

The government dismissed that poll as unscientific.

Dr Moyo said the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change was only campaigning in about a fifth of the constituencies.

Correspondents say the campaign of intimidation against the opposition, orchestrated by the ruling party, appears to be backfiring, angering many potential Zanu-PF supporters.

Restraint urged

Meanwhile, the head of the Commonwealth Electoral Observer Team, Nigeria's former president Abdulsalami Abubakar, has urged restraint ahead of the weekend.

He condemned political violence sweeping Zimbabwe.

Zanu-PF 'spy' caught by Margaret Dongo supporters
Intimidation is widespread and not just limited to ruling party supporters

"Zimbabweans should vote peacefully and according to their will. There is no need for violence, otherwise you are doing a disservice to the same people you aspire to lead," Mr Abubakar said.

He said he was concerned at the horrifying tales of violence and intimidation his observer team had heard.

"People have been beaten and I have been able to speak to some of those who have been beaten. This is coming from all the (political) parties concerned," he said.

At least 29 people, mostly opposition supporters, have died in violence linked to the election and the invasions of hundreds of white-owned farms by government supporters.

According to the Commercial Farmers Union, 430 people have received hospital treatment and 2,400 assault cases have been reported since February, mostly against black farm workers.

There were 1,490 death threats, 70% of them against the workers, the union said.

On Tuesday opposition leader Margaret Dongo told journalists in Harare that about 70 militants of the Zanu-PF party attacked her house wielding sticks and something like a bottle of petrol.

They thoroughly wrecked her house and car and five people were seriously injured, she said.

Disgraceful Africans

Meanwhile, the 17 Kenyan and Nigerian observers who have been barred from monitoring polls have been called "disgraceful Africans" by the state-owned Herald newspaper.

Commonwealth election head Abdulsalami Abubakar:
Commonwealth election head Abdulsalami Abubakar: Serious concerns

It said they were "willing to be used as tools by the British in return for a few pieces of silver".

"We do not expect our brothers and sisters to be aiding Western powers in their destructive ways," the newspaper said.

The European Union team has denied the observers had any connection with the UK - which has been highly critical of President Robert Mugabe.

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See also:

13 Jun 00 | Africa
Zimbabwe hampers EU observers
16 Jun 00 | Africa
Opposition boost in Zimbabwe
17 Jun 00 | Africa
Turnout blow for Mugabe
14 Apr 00 | Africa
Profile: Morgan Tsvangirai
18 Jun 00 | Africa
Harare rally boosts opposition
16 Jun 00 | Africa
What role for poll observers?
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