Monday, May 29, 2006

"Terrified" Mugabe tightens his grip

WHEN THE soldiers rolled past Lot Dube's land and set up camp, they told him and other farmers that all non-maize crops would be destroyed.

Their entire harvest would have to be sold to the Zimbabwean government's Grain Marketing Board so it could be used to purchase foreign currency.

It is the Mugabe regime's latest ploy to buy its way out of an economic crisis so severe that inflation is running at more than 1,000%, a record for an African nation supposedly not at war.

Dube, 63, who has farmed in the southern Insiza district since 1982, had to watch while the troops ploughed his market vegetables - onions, tomatoes and sweet potatoes that bring in money to pay for his children's school fees - into the ground.

There was little point complaining to the Grain Board; Robert Mugabe has recently put a military commander in charge of its operation.

With pressure now building both internally and externally on the 82-year-old president to save his country by removing himself from power, Mugabe is strengthening his grip over the country's rural masses. ...

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