'We Are Being Told What to Think and Do'

The following dispatch was written for ABC News by a journalist who has been inside Zimbabwe. Out of concern for the reporter's safety, we are not revealing the reporter's name.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe said Friday that liberation war veterans would take up arms if he loses a June 27 presidential run-off vote.

Mugabe told youth members of his ruling Zanu-PF party in Harare that the veterans had told him they would launch a new bush war if the election was won by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, whom he accuses of being a puppet of the West.

"They said if this country goes back into white hands just because we have used a pen [to vote]. 'We will return to the bush to fight,'" Mugabe said, in the latest ratcheting up of pressure to extend his 28-year-presidency.

Tsvangirai, rights groups and Western powers accuse Mugabe of unleashing a brutal campaign, using the police to harass the opposition, in a bid to win the run-off after he lost presidential and parliamentary elections March 29.

Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, fell short of the majority needed to win the presidency outright in that vote. He says 66 of his followers have been murdered since.

Zimbabwe's High Court Friday ordered police to bring MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti to court Saturday and justify why he had been arrested at Harare's airport Thursday. Biti faces a treason charge that could carry a death sentence.

"The order we got is for him to be brought to court and for the police to show cause why they are holding him," defence attorney Lewis Uriri said. He he said Biti was expected to appear in court at 3 p.m. ET Saturday.

In his speeches, Mugabe has insinuated a possible civil war failing his victory in the run-off vote. And his party is doing everything it can to persuade Zimbabwe's people to vote for him.

In Mbare, one of Harare's poorest neighborhoods, torn MDC posters that display the face of the opposition leader Tsvangirai mark the building that is known for the notorious beatings that take place throughout the day and well into the evening.

The "flats" — a large five-story, rundown apartment — is one of Mbare's landmarks since most of people who live in this overcrowded township stay inside three-room concrete shacks with large rusty tin roofs.

"This is the ghetto," says Nyasha, a middle-aged woman who holds her young child. "Everything happens here." What she is referring to is the rampant theft that plagues the neighborhood. "They [Zanu-PF] has given the young people something else destructive to do with their time."

Beginning around 8 a.m., Zanu-PF members, composed mainly of young men who travel in groups of five or 10, demand that street vendors and shopkeepers join in political marches that will encircle Mbare.

If not, they will be beaten.

The Southern African Development Community has deployed observers for the upcoming June 27 run-off to ensure the elections are both free and fair for all.

Marching around Mbare for more than an hour, the people chant "Chipangano," which means "Our Agreement," while clenching their fists in the air and holding posters of President Mugabe who also holds his fist raised proudly in the air.

In a sweeping move throughout the past week, President Mugabe has initiated a ceasefire to all operations by numerous NGOs providing humanitarian aid within the country.

In another ghetto in Harare, Warren Park, the tactics are a little more extreme.

In the late afternoon war veterans and military personnel travel in the back of pickup trucks and stop at houses along the trash-ridden streets.

One soldier simply bangs on the door and displays his gun. The men of the house soon exit and follow the truck a few miles out of town where they attend a "re-education" seminar for hours into the night that concludes with all the men singing songs of Zanu–PF nationalism.

Those who resist Mugabe and his men face terrible consquences.

They could be charged with treason and taken to court, as Biti has been. Or, as the Times of London pointed out in its report published Thursday, they could be killed by members of his militia.

The Times of London reported on the gruesome murder last Friday of Dadirai Chipiro, the wife of Patson Chipiro, head of the MDC in Mhondoro district, 90 miles south of Harare.

The 45-year-old was burned alive by Zanu-PF militiamen, who first chopped off one of her hands, and then her feet, before throwing her into her hut, locking the door and throwing a petrol bomb through the window.

This killing was only the latest in a long line of atrocities waged by Mugabe's regime.

Kudzi, a mother of three and wife to one of the men who has been taken for two consecutive nights, talks about what she believes is going on.

"We are being told what to think and do," she said. "They don't give us any food for our starving children or money, they only give us fear."

For many kids who live on the streets of Mbare, the Zanu-PF members give these young people beer and marijuana during breaks between marching.

The United States has accused Mugabe's government of using food as a weapon to hold onto power at any cost.

Last Friday, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters that the Zimbabwean government, having "wrecked" the country's economy, wants to be the "sole source for any food aid for people."

It amounts to "using food as a weapon, using the hunger of parents' children against them to prevent them from voting their conscience for a better kind of Zimbabwe," he charged.

In Mbare at the end of the day, the same innocent bystanders who were marching in the streets are finally forced to clean the streets of this poverty-stricken neighborhood.

Why? President Mugabe is planning to come for a visit. As they clean, they sing Chimwe ne Chimwe Chinenguva Yacho, which means "Everything has its own time."

Reuters contributed to the reporting of this story.

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