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power under threat as troops riot over pay
Mcgreal, Mail & Guardian (SA)
December 02, 2008
Dozens of Zimbabwean
soldiers rioted in Harare on Monday, attacking banks after they
were unable to withdraw their near worthless pay, in a further sign
that Robert Mugabe may be losing control over the forces that have
kept him in power.
soldiers also looted shops and were backed by some civilians as
they clashed with riot police who fired tear gas to break up the
protest. The drastic cash shortages are caused by the country's
231-million percent inflation rate.
Press reported that gunfire had broken out in the city centre, but
it was not clear who fired.
Though not large,
Monday's was the second such protest in a week and reflects a desperation
within the military that will be of concern to Mugabe and his allies,
who have relied on the army to suppress political opposition.
often hungry and unable to feed their families, have grown disillusioned.
If significant numbers were to turn against Mugabe, it could swiftly
bring an end to his rule. The president's grip is in any case greatly
weakened as Zimbabwe's collapse continues without respite.
in Harare on Monday cut off water supplies to the city because there
are not enough chemicals to treat the water in the midst of a cholera
The Health Ministry
on Monday said cholera has now spread to all but one of Zimbabwe's
10 provinces, as sanitation systems break down across the country.
The World Health Organisation says about 425 people have died, but
medical charities say the real figure is at least double that among
the 11 000 reported cases.
The United Nations
estimates that five million people, about half Zimbabwe's population,
will need food aid in the coming weeks.
Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Monday urged foreign
governments to end the "man-made" humanitarian crisis,
"as it has reached catastrophic levels".
But there is
unlikely to be any significant foreign aid until Mugabe agrees to
implement the political deal reached in mid-September that required
him to give up many of his powers to Tsvangirai, who was to be appointed
Mugabe has so
far blocked its implementation by insisting that his Zanu-PF party
should control all the key ministries, particularly those responsible
for the security forces and finance.
The most senior
UN official in the country has warned that Zimbabwe could become
a failed state similar to Somalia if the power-sharing deal fails.
told a delegation led by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan
that Mugabe was more interested in protecting his power and legacy
than rescuing Zimbabwe from disaster.
by Mr Annan what would be the future of Zimbabwe were no political
agreement reached, Mr Zacarias replied that it would become a 'Somalia',
a failed state," said a report by Annan's delegation. "When
asked what President Mugabe wants, Mr Zacarias explained that his
interest is that of protecting his legacy and that of his political
remains defiant. On Monday it said it would not abide by a Southern
African Development Community ruling that the seizure of white-owned
farms were illegal under international law.
daydreaming because we are not going to reverse the land reform
exercise," Didymus Mutasa, the Security Minister, told the
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