Mugabe's 22-year iron grip on power has never been under such pressure. The full weight of international diplomacy has been thrown into trying to get observers into Zimbabwe to witness the elections. But the president is resisting, claiming a conspiracy by his opponents and Britain to remove him. But now it seems someone closer to home put a $500,000 price on the 78-year-old Mugabe's head. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who has campaigned as a democrat, seeks long-overdue change. Mr Tsvangirai has condemned the "notorious invasions of white-owned farms by black war veterans" - a stand which has made him the darling of the liberal democratic West.
But we present evidence that the opposition leader has had no intention of letting the electoral process take its course. While parading his democratic credentials, Mr Tsvangirai has in fact, been plotting to kill President Robert Mugabe. "We can now definitely say that Mr Mugabe is going to be eliminated," he is filmed saying. The footage was taken last December, when Mr Tsvangirai met five men at the Montreal offices of a prominent Canadian political consultancy, Dickens and Madson, which was promised lucrative contracts under the new government. The aim of the meeting is clearly stated: "We are to proceed to implement a plan of introducing a transitional government through the termination of Mugabe." Another consultant quips: "Do coffins win elections?" Tsvangirai is also seen on the surveillance videotape discussing a coup d'etat following 'the elimination of the President.' The plan was to seize power with sections of the military, override parliament and suspend the elections. The paper trails shows that nearly $100,000 was already given as down-payment.
The stakes are high: if Mugabe wins the elections again then land tenure across Africa is threatened. If the plot had succeeded, undoubtedly mass mayhem and death would have followed. The consultancy company now says it had no intention of fulfilling the contract. Tsvangirai admits he was in the meeting in Canada but denies the plot - but the hard evidence of one of the new millennium's biggest political scandals cannot be dismissed so lightly .