Hundreds of Libyan troops have been sent to Zimbabwe, prompting fears that they will help dictator Robert Mugabe, crack down on his political opponents. The militia, part of Col. Gaddafi’s elite forces, who are known for their terror tactics, are being housed in secret locations scattered across the country.
According to members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the Libyans are assisting Mr Mugabe with his “security.” Senior officials of the MDC believe that assassination squads are moving into Harare.
Gaddafi has become one of Mr Mugabe’s most vocal political allies and is believed to have contributed more than $1 million towards the Zimbabwean president’s “re-election” campaign. The contribution was part of a $300 million deal between the two countries under which Libya undertook to supply oil to Zimbabwe. It is thought that the Libyans have also acquired part of Zimbabwe’s state oil company.
The deal was struck in September when Mugabe visited Tripoli, the Libyan capital, after a high-profile visit by Gaddafi to Zimbabwe.
Mugabe has been increasingly turning to Libya for support in the run-up to the elections, expected early next year. He is facing his first serious electoral threat since Zimbabwe was handed over to Mugabe’s ZANU 21 years ago.
David Coltart, the shadow justice minister in the MDC, said in a speech in Harare: “Mugabe is prepared to turn us into a satellite state of Libya.”
Gaddafi visited Zimbabwe in August in a massive 100-vehicle motorcade packed with female Nubian bodyguards. During his visit, the Libyan dictator urged Zimbabwe’s Muslims to wage a Jihad against Zimbabwe’s small white population. The Libyan leader also held secret talks with Pagad, a secretive Muslim organisation based in Cape Town.
As part of the oil deal, Gaddafi’s regime acquired some 20 Zimbabwean properties, from mansions in Harare’s northern suburbs to farms. There were fears that the 58 properties could become bases for the Libyan militia.
Critics of Mugabe point out that, despite the deal with Libya over the supply of oil, most of Zimbabwe’s petrol stations are still empty and there is no end in sight to the two-year fuel shortage.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s passport office has been ordered to produce 10,000 passports, which will be issued to Libyan nationals, according to officials in the registrar general’s office.
Zimbabwean passports are considered more acceptable than Libyan ones by many countries. The move means that the Libyan forces may be used not only to help Mr Mugabe win his presidential election, but also to operate beyond the country’s borders, says the MDC. (The London Telegraph).
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At the same time, Mugabe has recommitted his ZANU (PF) government to re-instituting “a Marxist Leninist transformation”and “a return to socialism.” (The Times, 16/10/2001).
Mugabe’s strict price controls on bread are forcing bakeries to shut down. “It will be cheaper to close than continue to produce bread at these losses” said one baker. At least 10 000 people stand to lose their jobs as the 3 main bakeries are forced to close. Zimbabwe is reeling with an official 60% unemployment, 70% inflation and an acute shortage of foreign currency.
About 60 tourism companies in Zimbabwe have closed down this year alone, throwing many hundreds more people out of work. Over 700 other firms have closed in bankruptcy (Daily Telegraph, 16/10/2001).
Many Zimbabwean schools have closed down in the wake of a new wave of violence by war veterans and ZANU (PF) militants. Scores of teachers have been assaulted and classes disrupted by ZANU thugs.
”He can call it socialism, but we know it will be shortages and long queues. Last week we could not afford bread. This week we cannot get bread!” declared one Zimbabwean (The Guardian, 16/10/2001).
The relentless violence, intimidation and lawlessness of the state-sponsored anarchy in Zimbabwe have destroyed the once-thriving agricultural sector. Farm invasions, business invasions and factory take-overs by Marxist mobs urged on by President Mugabe have shattered investor confidence and ended the once flourishing tourism industry.
Reportedly Zimbabwe’s foreign debt stands at US$475 billion and domestic debt at US$200 billion (Daily News, 18/10/2001). About 3 million people are reported to be facing starvation in this country, which was once self-sufficient and a food exporter.
Dr. Peter Hammond