March 26, 2005


Amid Famine, Zimbabwe Voters Fed Anti-Blair Vitriol: Britain is the issue in state media as legislative elections near, but food shortage stirs anger. (Robyn Dixon, March 26, 2005, LA Times)

"Bury Blair, vote ZANU-PF," run the ruling party's newspaper advertisements, promising "an end to racist factory closures, an end to racist withholding of commodities," along with a litany of other domestic problems blamed on the British leader. Mugabe is furious with Britain, the country's former colonial power, especially since Blair said he would like to see a change of regime in Zimbabwe.

Opposition leaders and rights activists charge that the government has nonetheless underpinned its anti-Blair parliamentary election campaign with threats that play on fears sparked by the food crisis. They allege that the government has threatened to bypass areas that fail to support ZANU-PF when it distributes food after Thursday's voting.

"Every time you turn on the television, you hear about how bad Tony Blair is. People are taking it as a joke. There's no strong anti-British sentiment," said a supervisor at a factory in this southwestern city. He agreed to a surreptitious interview conducted in a car outside his workplace but, fearing repercussions, gave his name only as Jack.

But he said there was plenty of anxiety about food. His elderly mother in rural central Zimbabwe and his three children at school in Bulawayo had all been warned, he said, that supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change could miss out on rations.

It is difficult to predict whether the food shortages will translate into popular anger against the government in the vote or fear of being denied food will boost the ruling party's support. Either way, analysts expect ZANU-PF to win the elections.

Why not a very public pledge from the U.S. and the Commonwealth to step in with massive food assistance for a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 26, 2005 9:01 AM

Someone needs to inform these people that starving to death is really a very peaceful, natural way to go.

Posted by: brian at March 26, 2005 9:27 AM

Once the ketosis sets in it's fun even!

Posted by: oj at March 26, 2005 9:37 AM

Would Mbeki change his tune if 50,000+ refugees stormed his border?

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 26, 2005 6:23 PM