Potential Hot Spots: November 19, 2003


President Mugabe and his cronies must be scared, since the police have been ordered to embark on a nationwide firearms audit starting on the 21st. They want the public to take their firearms and firearm certificates to their nearest police station, so the number of guns and types can be verified. A police spokesperson noted that the process wouldn't take much time out of the public's day, which is scheduled to end on December 31 this year.

The authorities are using the excuse of rising crime for this exercise, since a total of 323 armed robberies were committed in Harare between January and October 2003 (compared to 276 during the same period in 2002). Police have so far confiscated at least 200 small arms (including Uzis, CZ pistols, .303 rifles, AK-47s and automatic rifles). Zimbabwe's civilians are not allowed to own AK-47s, Uzis and other automatic rifles. Coincidentally, the ZFM had posted a photo of one of their arms caches with a selection of FN style rifles, AK47s and Uzis. Most of the prohibited firearms are suspected to have been smuggled into Zimbabwe from South Africa and Mozambique, although there was plenty of opportunity for the Zimbabwean defense forces to bring home 'souvenirs'.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's main labor body called for a two day nationwide strike beginning on the 20th, to protest the recent arrest of dozens of its members during anti-government demonstrations. - Adam Geibel 


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