February 7, 2002

Food security threatened, rising violence

Zimbabwe faces a critical shortage of maize with preliminary production figures looking gloomy, the Grain Producers Association (ZGPA) warned. Vanessa McKay, administrator for the ZGPA said it was clear that the expected yield this harvest would be insufficient to feed the country in the next few months. Production of maize in Zimbabwe has been affected by a number of things, among them disruptions caused by the controversial land redistribution programme of President Robert Mugabe. Further exacerbating the situation is an unusually dry season, a shortage of fertiliser and a decrease of 41 percent in the total area of land planted with maize by commercial farmers.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum (ZHRF) said that political killings and violence intensified across Zimbabwe in January, with a record 16 people murdered in that month alone. The ZHRF is an umbrella body for nine of Zimbabwe’s largest human rights and democracy advocacy groups. It said that while some of the violence broke out spontaneously between groups of supporters of different political parties, pro-government militants were waging what the ZHRF said was a well-orchestrated campaign of terror aimed at crushing the opposition. In some cases, government ministers and officials had actually taken a leading role in the violent activities, especially against teachers in rural areas, it said. For example in Masvingo province alone, at least 35 schools had been forced to close because of rising political violence. "Of gravest concern are the 16 politically motivated murders that were reported in January. This is the highest number of deaths recorded in any one month since the first politically motivated murder in March 2000," the ZHRF said. It said the death toll could be much higher because many more deaths went unreported.

On February 7, South African President Thabo Mbeki stepped up efforts to prepare his country to deal with any possible negative fallout from the turmoil in Zimbabwe while his officials made clear Pretoria would not recognise any government elected in conditions which are not free and fair in the fiercely contested March presidential ballot. In the fist week of February, Mbeki had met representatives of the powerful Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), South African churches, business leaders, farmers’ groups, representatives from Anglo American and others to harness opinion on how best to deal with and react to Zimbabwe’s turmoil. Mbeki’s ministers, including Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana who heads his country’s task force team dealing with Zimbabwe, Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad and Essop Pahad, the deputy minister in Mbeki’s office, attended the meeting whose only agenda was Zimbabwe.

Mbeki’s economic adviser Nkulu added, that South Africa and the rest of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) would not recognise any government in Zimbabwe elected in conditions which were not free and fair. South Africa "had the will" to act against President Mugabe if this became necessary. (Financial Gazette, IRIN)


URL: http://www.sadocc.at/news2002/2002-037.shtml
Copyright © 2018 SADOCC - Southern Africa Documentation and Cooperation Centre.
Rechtliche Hinweise / Legal notice