Potential Hot Spots: January 13, 2003


On January 4 a food riot broke out in Bulawayo over claims of an unfair distribution of corn meal. At least 39 people were arrested. On January 6 four Zimbabwean police officers (who were protecting a food distribution point) were injured when a mob formed in the town of Chitungwiza. Approximately 200 people were waiting for a delivery of mealie-meal (corn powder). A group of youths attacked the police. Police used teargas to disperse the crowd.
Food riots could lead to another confrontation between the government and the democratic opposition. Food shortages are increasing and the people are hungry. Western sources said investigators believe the two reported riots were spontaneous. President Mugabe, of course, needs no pretext to crackdown on his opponents. Cracking down on the starving, however, could ignite a larger explosion. (Austin Bay)


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