.....But apparantly, the mere threat of violence was not enough to ensure the correct vote: Mugabe also banned the distribution of food aid by NGO’s in early June.
This was a twofold threat: One, it meant that after a poor harvest, villagers would know that if they didn’t vote correctly, no food aid would be coming to keep them alive, and two: It meant that there were fewer outsiders to report on atrocities.
The dirty little secret about missionaries and NGO’s is that they write about what they see. Mugabe is trying to intimidate his population, and keep it a secret. That is why he bans outside reporters from entering the country, and why letters and emails are assumed by locals to be monitored.
So since June, NGO’s have been banned from giving out food aid. After the farce election, and the South African mediated talks to try to get a coalition government, Mugabe agreed to stop the suspension of the NGO’s. This did not happen, although in early August a small amount of food was allowed to be distributed to HIV patients. But if things don’t change, Zimbabwe, which once exported food and with irrigation and modern tecniques could be the breadbasket of Africa, will become a state with massive starvation. From the report by the Crisis in Zimbabwe coalition:
“The suspension of humanitarian operations is estimated to have put the lives of more than 1.5 million marginalised Zimbabweans at risk already,” said the report. “Without the immediate resumption of food aid across the country, widespread hunger and worsening malnutrition are unavoidable.”
It noted that the two main international food agencies, the World Food Programme and the Food and Agricultural Organisation, estimate that 2.04 million Zimbabweans in rural and urban areas do not have enough food now. By January, the organisations say that 5.1 million will be at risk of starvation – about 45% of the population.
“The government has always maintained a stranglehold on food distribution with a view to ensuring that those receiving the food associate this generosity with the government, rather than the donors,” the report noted.