March 29, 2005


Negotiating the election maize: Food shortages in the former 'breadbasket of southern Africa' are the burning issue of Zimbabwe elections (Andrew Meldrum, March 29, 2005, Guardian Unlimited)

President Robert Mugabe's claims of the triumph of his seizures of white-owned farms ring hollow at campaign rallies where people are hungry.

Confronted by unenthusiastic crowds, Mr Mugabe has admitted for the first time while campaigning that the country is confronted by widespread food shortages. Meanwhile, police have threatened to jail a civic leader who has charged that the government is withholding food from areas that support the opposition.

But the food shortages are undeniable. Maize meal supplies have been erratic in both rural and urban areas over the past month, with supermarkets in the cities without stocks for days. Zimbabwean residents say large areas of planted crops stand dry and damaged, and international agencies estimate that more than 4 million Zimbabweans are in need of food aid.

Speaking in Zimbabwe's rural heartland, Mr Mugabe was forced to acknowledge that the people were suffering from a lack of maize, the country's staple grain. At a rally for his Zanu-PF party on March 17 in Gutu, in southeastern Zimbabwe, Mr Mugabe blamed the shortages on the failure of the seasonal rains.

"The main problem we are facing is one of drought and the shortage of food, we are going to work out a hunger alleviation programme ... I promise you that no one will starve," Mr Mugabe told a listless crowd of 7,000, according to Reuters. The villagers sat through Mr Mugabe's 40-minute speech, many with blank faces.

Strange things happen when you go before the people and ask for their votes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 29, 2005 2:34 PM

So maybe Pres. Bush should withhold pate de foie gras from Manhattan & California until they. . .

Nah. That would mean aligning himself with PETA.


Posted by: oswald booth czolgosz at March 29, 2005 3:01 PM