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Mugabe at UN food summit, as Zimbabwe goes hungry

Zimbabwe agriculture continues to suffer as Mugabe seizes farms of white and black alike.

But the heat is on Mugabe as well. As a result of a recent SADC deal in Maputo, Mozambique, the president is under increased pressure from his peers to accept the conditions he signed up to despite his repeated claims that he has fulfilled all requirements.

Outstanding issues include the removal of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana. Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) holds Gono responsible for monetary delinquency and Tomana for selective application of the law of the sort MDC treasurer Roy Bennett has been subjected to. But Mugabe has adamantly insisted that these two loyalists will stay where they are.

Ministers from Mozambique, Swaziland and Zambia, who were in the country in October to assess the power-sharing deal, expressed concerns about the management of the police force. They reported to SADC that although ministers from the two main parties were working together well at the Ministry of Home Affairs, management of the police remains a problem.

Senior police officers have been openly defiant of the new order, even to the extent in one case of refusing to meet the MDC co-minister, Giles Mutsekwa, during a regional tour.

Another problem area identifed by the SADC ministers was security. The National Security Council was set up under the so-called global political agreement between the parties last year and it contains the army, police and prisons service. It has only met once since the government of national unity was formed in February. It is widely seen as an instrument of Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party. Similarly, a National Economic Council has not been constituted despite an urgent need for consensus on economic policy.

The whole point of the SADC-mediated political detente in Zimbabwe has been to prevent Mugabe damaging the economy to the extent that Zimbabweans become poorer and neighboring countries suffer collateral damage. With his announcement two weeks ago that the widely reviled Zimbabwe dollar will be reintroduced before Christmas, regional observers will have received some indication of both his capacity for damage and his detachment from the real world.

The Zimbabwe dollar is associated with 10-digit inflation, uncertainty, bank lines and corruption. Zimbabweans hate the unit as emblematic of all that was rotten and painful in their daily lives. It is however unlikely to reappear anytime soon despite the best efforts of Mugabe and Gono. It is the one issue that is calculated to unite the nation against Mugabe and his followers seem to know it. Not a single member of his party has spoken up to support the president’s plan.

Meanwhile, President Ian Khama of Botswana, a forthright critic of Mugabe, said that free and fair elections are the only avenue out of Zimbabwe's perennial crisis.

“There can be no substitute,” Khama told the Botswanan parliament in Gaborone, “for free, fair, and credible elections where people elect representatives of their choice and not have them imposed on them through rigged elections, brutalizing opponents , military interventions, constitutional amendments to stay longer in power and one-man rule that goes on for decades.”
Khama left his audience in no doubt who he was talking about.

“One thing which I fear may become a trend in Africa if not stopped is where an individual or party in order to stay in power engage in unconstitutional and undemocratic actions to achieve this which, as we have already witnessed, result in power-sharing arrangements and one-man rule.”