Potential Hot Spots: Zimbabwe



: Items About Areas That Could Break Out Into War 


January 8, 2007: Zimbabwe enters 2007 with increasing turmoil and spreading poverty. On December 29, 2006 the Zimbabwean government said its police had arrested 16,000 people for smuggling "precious minerals" and the crime of "illegal mining." The "police sweep" began in November 2006. Yes, a lot of illegal jewel and gold smuggling goes on, but the arrests of 16,000 people suggests Mugabe's regime seized an opportunity to make a statement to the opposition. A government-run press source said that three (yes, three) kilograms of gold had turned up. That's really not a lot of gold from a shakedown of this size. The government claimed it netted 5000 "pieces" of diamonds. A lot depends on what constitutes a piece, or fragment. So why question the operation? Because other sources have reported that impoverished Zimbabweans had turned to "panning for gold" as a means of supporting themselves. This crackdown also followed the crack down against people accused of "hoarding" cash when Zimbabwe revalued its currency. Another reason to believe the general "crack down" theory: On December 20, 2006, Mugabe said that his government will "crush" it opponents and dissenters. The Zimbabwe military is also hassling private (non-state controlled) mobile phone companies. The Zimbabwean government essentially wants to monitor all international calls.

December 28, 2006: In a strange twist to the saga of the farm seizure, it appears many of Mugabe's "war veterans" (the militia used to intimidate the opponents of his regime) are being evicted from farms they occupied. Belated justice? The facts on this aren't clear, but several of the farms are now "owned" by government officials. The government has also indicated it will also prosecute "commercial farmers" (white and black) it says have occupied the land illegally.

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