January 26, 2006

Zanu PF official forms splinter party / Bank chief voices fears on crisis / Government urged to ease restrictions on witchcraft

A top Zanu PF official who led opposition to President Robert Mugabe's imposition of a female vice-president has formed a splinter party. Businessman Daniel Shumba, who was chairman of the ruling party's provincial executive in Masvingo and also chaired the provincial chairmen caucus in the Zanu PF central committee, was among six officials who have been fired after it got known that they were plotting to oppose the nomination of Joyce Mujuru as deputy president. The six chairmen had wanted to elect minister Emmerson Mnangagwa in place of Mujuru. Because of his seniority in Zanu PF and his business interests which enjoyed multi-million rand government contracts, Shumba's decision to form a party is being seen by analysts as an indication that President Mugabe can no longer intimidate party members. According to Shumba, forming a new party was the only feasible route for him because Zanu PF was unchangeable. "We tried to change it by being democratic and open minded about the succession issue and many others but the end result was our expulsion." The UPP's manifesto emphasises the restoration of the rule of the law restoring investor confidence.
As it got known in the meantime, Zimbabwe's central bank governor has rung the alarm on the country's crumbling economy. Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono gave a rare public warning of possible food riots and slamming bureaucratic inaction. Political analysts said Gono's stark forecast revealed deepening fears within Mugabe's inner circle. According to the Reserve Bank Governor, the country's army chief was concerned and had recently warned him that the central bank had to ensure adequate food supplies for a country where millions are surviving on food aid. "To quote the wisdom of General Constantine Chiwenga, 'a hungry man is an angry man', and he said we must do everything to ensure the army does not one day have to face angry hungry people on the streets," Gono stated. He furthermore said that the government had pledged to end farm invasions by ruling party supporters and to do more to respect private property rights. He also noted that Zimbabwe had to tackle graft and rebuild its ties with the international community, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. (The Cape Argus, South Africa/Rts/The Mail & Guardian, South Africa)

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