Potential Hot Spots: November 13, 2003


: A group calling itself Zimbabwe Freedom Movement (ZFM) released a statement in London saying that "since we have not achieved democracy by peaceful means, despite the best efforts of the only viable opposition party in Zimbabwe, it is necessary to place the illegitimate president and government of Zimbabwe on notice that they are about to be removed by the judicious use of appropriate force".

British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell claimed that the ZFM had a network of cells throughout the country and could muster thousands (mostly soldiers, police and security services personnel disillusioned with President Mugabe and his cronies). They had access to arms dumps and were serving notice that Mugabe should resign or face removal by "judicious use of appropriate force". 

Zimbabwe, which is in its fourth year of recession, does not have enough hard currency to import essential commodities such as fuel, food and medicines. The Zimbabwean economy is in a shambles. Police arrested 269 illegal foreign currency dealers in the country's two main cities. Last week, the government also deployed riot police in both the capital Harare and in Bulawayo in a bid to stop illegal foreign currency dealing.

The government has also ordered police to arrest all striking state hospital doctors, for defying last week's court order to return to work. Military doctors and consulting medical staff were brought in from Cuba and the Congo to deal with the most serious emergency cases at hospitals affected by the strike. 

The country's main labor body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), called for nationwide protests against economic problems and alleged rights abuses next week. No details were given on what form the protest would take, since all public protests without police permission are outlawed under Draconian security laws. In October, around 200 ZCTU activists and officials were arrested for holding demonstrations in cities around Zimbabwe. 

The Zimbabwe government dismissed the ZFM threat. - Adam Geibel

Zimbabwe Freedom Movement, online at http://www.zfm.cc


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