The price of political opposition in Zimbabwe.

These are extracts from the diary of Esther, published by the BBC. They speak for themselves about what it means to oppose Mugabe’s regime, in real terms.

Esther (not her real name), 28, a professional living and working in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, is writing a regular diary on the challenges of leading a normal life.Zimbabwe is suffering from an acute economic crisis. The country has the world’s highest rate of annual inflation and just one in five has an official job.I have a friend whose brother works as a teacher in an area that is said to be experiencing some of the worst post-election violence.When schools opened about two weeks ago, he decided to stay away from there.

After a while he thought it would be safe to return to his school, as he had heard no reports of violence there.

He was abducted from his home on Monday night, beaten up and returned to his home.

He managed to send text messages to his family, and told them not to come and collect him to seek medical treatment as he was instructed by his assailants not to leave the area “Or else.”

Because he does not hold a Zanu-PF membership card, it was assumed he was an MDC supporter.

And the worst part was that he was given a “certificate” to show he had received his beating.

He was told to produce it whenever someone else wanted to beat him as proof that it had already been done.

The paper even had a date stamp and the signature of the leader of the group.

Another friend of mine had an uncle who recently passed away. He told me he was debating whether or not to go to the countryside for the funeral.

His parents had told him that “war veterans” in the area had set up road blocks, were stopping and searching all vehicles, and telling people travelling in from Harare to go back where they had come from.

There is a good chance that warning would come after a beating they said. In the end, he decided to go and honour his uncle’s memory, and face whatever he came across.

He has not yet returned, so I do not know how he fared.

People are saying this is what the run-up to the presidential election run-off is going to be about – violence and intimidation.

The idea is to force supporters of the opposition to stay away from their homes so that on voting day they cannot cast their vote.

There is no chance that these people are lying. The reports are too numerous and are coming from too many areas.

Life in the city:

For the urbanites, the struggle is – as always – with ever increasing prices.

Public transport fares doubled over one week. Last Friday, a single fare was $50m, today, exactly one week later it is $100m.

The list of what we thought were basics that have since become luxuries continues to grow.

For example, laundry soap now doubles up as bath soap. You can do without bread, and grow your own sweet potatoes instead. If you cannot grow them, then buy them, they are still a lot cheaper.

But this week, I do not feel so much for my people as I do for the Burmese.

Cold, wet, hungry and homeless as their leaders think about whether or not to accept foreign aid.

The suffering ordinary people have to endure as the world respects sovereignty is beyond belief.

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