Zimbabwe militias 'crushing opposition'

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai before the June 27th runoff vote
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai before the June 27th runoff vote

Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF are seeking to "totally obliterate" all further political opposition in Zimbabwe, it has been claimed.

Author Lauren St John told politics.co.uk youth militia and party operatives have been systematically targeting those who did not vote in the June 27th runoff vote, punishing them with beatings and torture.

Operation Red Finger, as it is called, saw those who did not back Mr Mugabe subjected to horrific abuse in a campaign "which will not now finish until all opposition is destroyed".

"Everyone that did vote had their finger dipped in indelible red ink. So they could hunt those who did not," she explained.


"My father was confronted by a war veteran. They came for my Dad. He told them, legitimately thank God, that his authorised polling station was more than an hour's journey away and he didn't have the petrol to get to the polling station."

Ms St John's comments come as she publishes a book on her own experiences in the country, Rainbow's End: An African Memoir.

Her father's neighbours, the Campbells, were recently abducted by Zanu-PF because of their support for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Members of their family are now mounting a legal challenge to the situation in Namibia.

"People are so incredibly desperate, I can't tell you," she added.

"What's disturbing is that the same people that were fighting for freedom and for justice and for equality are now the same people that are destroying. and have no truck for equality and seem intent in reducing the country to famine."

Ms St John is concerned by the rate of hyperinflation is helping cement Mr Mugabe's position in power. At around 100,000 last year, inflation is expected to hit eight billion per cent this year.

"Given that a minimum of 80 per cent of people are out of a job. anyone that can get work by helping Zanu-PF probably will. The tragedy of Zimbabwe is not just the horror of what's happening - we're in completely uncharted economic territory."

Mr Mugabe has cut international aid from abroad amid harsh criticism from the global community.

But despite the UN security council's vetoed resolution punishing his regime, Ms St John remains positive about the international response to recent events in Zimbabwe.

She fears the actions of other countries will not make a real difference on the ground, however.

"The rhetoric of the outside world will not be any help to somebody who has no idea where to get tonight's food," she explained.

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