August 20, 2003


Zimbabwe has ordered the United Nations and other relief agencies to surrender their emergency food aid to ruling party officials.

The move, revealed yesterday, may be designed to ensure President Robert Mugabe’s regime can resume food aid deliveries, which could then be used as a political weapon to punish opponents in the run-up to provincial and district elections. Representatives of aid agencies, who had won agreement from the government to distribute aid without interference, expressed shock at the decision. . . .

Mr Mugabe’s desire to take full charge of aid relief is seen as a ploy to reassert himself in these areas by using food as a political weapon. Last year, ruling party thugs seized donated food, forcing relief agencies to suspend distribution in the affected constituencies.

Officials were “shocked?” But why? Mugabe is, of course, just responding to the legacy of colonialism and can’t be blamed for acting this way. . . .

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