Video Journalist Ginny Stein has reported from the African nation several times, defying a government ban and possibly risking jail time. However her local fixer deems it too dangerous for her to enter - so he borrows her hidden camera and journeys into his homeland to record the pre-election violence.This is a very graphic, powerful and moving report.
“I think everybody has to do his own bit,” he tells Stein before he crosses the border. “I happen to be working with the media and that’s my way of fighting for change in Zimbabwe.”
DEE: Now we are going to Manica bridge, an area where most MDC people here have been victimised. The guy I am going with here is telling me that there has been a lot of arson, burning down of property, beatings, lootings and even rape, to innocent victims. I'm just going to show you a little extent of the violence being meted on the opposition by the ruling party.
So few are vehicles in rural areas, each one that passes through is noticed. To stay too long is to attract attention.
DEE: The driver I am going with makes sure he turns around the car so that if we have to escape it will be easy.
In this village, the men have come together to offer each other protection. Albert - not his real name - is the MDC's ward chairman. But it was his role as an election observer that brought him to the attention of Robert Mugabe's loyalists.
ALBERT: They started to throw stones in my house, so, fearing that they would injure my family I come out and faced them then they started to beat me using different weapons - they were holding metal axes and logs and ties of rubber strips. Ah, they've made me even braver. Because all these injuries they've inflicted on me - they've branded me - I am even braver and I am going to vote for MDC and I am not going to change my mind though they've beaten me.
At a local hospital, Dee finds most patients too scared to speak. This man, a polling officer, a public servant who was beaten in front of his entire village, was brave enough to talk but too fearful of retribution to be identified.
Just heard Chris Patten promoting the Avaaz petition "there is something you can do". if you haven't already, please sign this.
Petition to Thabo Mbeki and other leaders of Southern Africa:
We call on you to hold an emergency meeting of Southern African leaders, to work by all means necessary for a legitimate Zimbabwean government that reflects the will of its people, and to decisively isolate those who stand in the way of a peaceful, democratic future for Zimbabwe.
Postscript: I neglected to give a hat-tip to The Sowetan. The SBS report has now been picked up from my post by Sokwanele, which will hopefully lead to a much wider viewership.