Monday, November 07, 2005

Zimbabwe riots

Mugabe hasn't liked Dell's comments on the Zimbabwe economy (see previous post) and, statesman that he is, has reacted accordingly:

President Robert Mugabe's newspapers have accused the American ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell, of being a sexual pervert visiting "unseemly" areas and have threatened his diplomatic immunity. The unprecedented personal attack on Dell follows a speech he made last week to a United States-funded university in Mutare, in eastern Zimbabwe, criticising Mugabe's "voodoo economics", corruption and gross mismanagement, which he said had wrecked the economy.

Meanwhile Mbeki, to reward his friend and trailblazer, is loosening the purse-strings:

Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa and central bank governor Gideon Gono last week met South Africa’s Finance Minister Trevor Manuel in Pretoria in a final push to unlock a US$500 million loan to avert economic collapse in Zimbabwe. Negotiations for the loan deal, which was gathering dust after President Robert Mugabe rejected some of South Africa’s demands, began six months ago. “There was a meeting and it made considerable progress. We are very confident that we will be able to conclude the discussions quite soon,” said Logan Wort, South Africa’s National Treasury chief operating officer.

As Mugabe recently said, people are very happy with his stewardship:

Armed anti-riot police patrolled the streets of Harare on Sunday as tension gripped the crisis-hit southern African country after a weekend of public demonstrations to demand a new constitution and to protest against senate elections at the month-end. Zimbabwe is also on the edge after the powerful Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) announced at the weekend that its more than 300 000 members will tomorrow stage public demonstrations against worsening economic hardships and plummeting conditions of living for workers. The ZCTU said it was taking to the streets after efforts at dialogue with the government flopped. The ZCTU protests are planned for the five biggest cities of Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare.

On Saturday, police used teargas to break up protests in the five major cities by members of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) civic alliance, which campaigns for a new and democratic constitution for Zimbabwe. The NCA, which brings together the ZCTU, churches, students, opposition political parties, women's organisations, human and civil rights groups, also opposes elections set for November 26 to create a new senate, saying the government should instead first allow a people-driven constitutional reform process to take place before it can establish the senate.

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