Potential Hot Spots: Zimbabwe and the Starving Soldiers


: Items About Areas That Could Break Out Into War

October 10, 2005: Since 2000, economic conditions in Zimbabwe have steadily worsened. First came the attacks on "white farmers" and the "redistribution" of their farms. Attacks increased on the Matabele tribe, which had long been hostile to president Mugabe and his supporters. Food shortages began with crop failure (when the "white farmers" and their employees left the farms) but even the arrival of food aid didn't help. Robert Mugabe's government controlled food distribution, and Mugabe's supporters got food, his opponents didn't. Mugabe's personal involvement in the Congo War also came under scrutiny. There were numerous indications that Mugabe, and possibly some of his senior military officers, were renting out Zimbabwean military forces in exchange for cash and a cut of the Congo's resources. British and US church activists became active supporters of church leaders inside Zimbabwe who opposed Mugabe's policies. Mugabe stood fast because he could count on his political party's security forces and the military.

Now there are apparently signs of in the 40,000 man army. Some troops are protesting food shortages. Another beef in the military seems to be cuts in pay. South African sources report that troops involved in the protests have been confined to their barracks and some will be court-martialed. Mugabe is a dictator who relies on batons and bayonets to stay in power. If he's failing to pay the troops (the bayonets) his government's economic problems are indeed very serious. Mugabe needs to be removed from power. South Africa and Great Britain are the two foreign powers most likely to act against him, and both have demurred. That means Mugabe will either go by military coup, civil war, or, like Stalin, retain power into a frail, paranoid old age. Civil war has always been a possibility, but it appears military coup is no longer out of the question. --Austin Bay


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