Zimbabwe Troubles May Bust Borders

Zimbabwe’s controversial re-election of President Robert Mugabe is bringing new pressure on South Africa to resolve the conflict, and raising military tensions with neighboring Botswana. Leaders of the G-8 and several African nations scolded South African Prime Minister Thabo Mbeki at a meeting in Japan Tuesday, saying his efforts to mediate Zimbabwe’s political crisis are not working, the Mail & Guardian of South Africa reports. With violence against the Zimbabwean opposition escalating, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are pushing for harsher sanctions. However, some African leaders, including Mbeki, warned against sanctions they said could potentially destabilize Zimbabwe, resulting in civil war. At a press conference during the G-8 summit, Tanzanian president and African Union chairman Jakaya Kikwete and President Bush agreed to an additional meeting on the subject in August.

Zimbabwe: Crises In Climax

With inflation at over 4,500 percent and hospitals, water, power and food access close to collapse, Zimbabwe faces its worst crisis since independence from Britain, reports the Associated Press. In June, the government of President Robert Mugabe accused store owners of fueling the inflation and ordered 50 percent price cuts on commodities such as bread, eggs and milk. Some stores are now refusing to re-order because prices are so low. Many Zimbabweans are coping with the food shortage by traveling to South Africa for goods, but Mugabe’s government will soon put a stop to that with a new law to limiting the import of food. Thousands of other Zimbabweans are simply leaving the country, looking for work and housing in South Africa.

Zimbabwe: Inflation, Dissent Converge

With inflation at 1,600 percent, Zimbabwe is removing subsidies on flour, maize and fuel, causing prices to as much as quintuple for staple foods and transportation. Officials say inflation is caused by businesses that illegally increase prices set by the state, and to prevent corruption have doubled the salaries of youth militia charged with enforcing the new rules. The new militia salaries are about 10 times the amount paid to teachers and state doctors, a sore point in a nation where leaders of the national teachers’ union were recently arrested for calling for strikes over low wages. Robert Mugabe’s government routinely smothers dissent, last week detaining student leaders who protested a 2,000 percent fee hike, and banning an election rally by the opposition party. Sources:
“Zimbabwe: Police deny permission for Tsvangirai rally”
Business Day (South Africa), February 16, 2007
“Zimbabwe: Massive price hikes loom”
Zimbabwe Independent, February 16, 2007
“Zim militia squads pay doubles”
South African Press Association, February 13, 2007
Learn more about Zimbabwe on Newsdesk.org