Sunday, April 06, 2008

Zimbabwe one week later - Uncertainty, anxiety, indecision, & behind-the-scenes maneuvering continue

What next for Zimbabwe? Hard to be sure.

It has now been more than a week since the Zimbabwean elections (for President, two houses of Parliament, and local offices) on Saturday, March 29, and the Zimbabwe Election Commission still has not released official results for the presidential contest. As I noted last Monday, in my own contribution to the proliferating speculation about what the delay might mean:
This is odd, since in previous Zimbabwean elections the results have been announced fairly quickly, sometimes within hours after the polls closed. This time, by contrast, official results for the parliamentary elections are just starting to dribble out several days later, and official results for the presidential contest have not been released at all.

The obvious inference is that the government apparatus is cooking the results, but they are still uncertain about much vote-rigging they should try to get away with. Probably they're shell-shocked too, and they're still deciding what to do next. Meanwhile, by all accounts, everything in Zimbabwe is caught in a state of suspended animation [....]

[I]t is by no means certain that Mugabe and the rest of the ZANU-PF ruling elite will agree to give up power, whatever the outcome of the election. In my highly non-expert opinion, all the experience of the past decades suggests that Mugabe himself will cling to power at any cost, even if he takes the country down with him. But, with luck, key segments of the elite will decide to jettison Mugabe and work out some sort of negotiated transition with the opposition--which could take various forms. Or, on the other hand, they may simply decide to abandon the last formalities of constitutional government and escalate to unvarnished military dictatorship. At this point, either outcome seems possible.
Six days later, all that still seems broadly correct, but in the meantime a number of developments have complicated the picture further. Among others ...

=> On Tuesday several serious and usually well informed journalists, including the Guardian's Chris McGreal in Harare, reported that Mugabe and the ZANU-PF power structure were determined to retain power, but were still debating whether to rely on overt military force or electoral fraud for this purpose:
A crisis meeting of Robert Mugabe's security cabinet decided to block the opposition from taking power after what appears to have been a comprehensive victory in Zimbabwe's elections but was divided between using a military takeover to annul the vote and falsifying the results.

Diplomatic and Zimbabwean sources who heard first-hand accounts of the Joint Operations Command meeting of senior military and intelligence officers and top party officials on Sunday night said Mugabe favoured immediately declaring himself president again but was persuaded to use the country's electoral commission to keep the opposition from power. [....]

Sources with knowledge of the JOC meeting said the Zanu-PF leadership was "in shock" after it was informed of the scale of the victory of the MDC's presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai.

A senior diplomatic source who received accounts from two people privy to the JOC meeting said it discussed shutting down the count and Mugabe declaring himself re-elected or the army stepping in to declare martial law on the pretext of defending the country from instability caused by the opposition claiming victory.

"In the JOC meeting there were two options for Mugabe: to declare victory on Sunday or declare martial law," said the diplomat. "They did not consider conceding. We understand Mugabe nearly decided to declare victory. Cooler heads prevailed. It was decided to use the [election commission] process of drip, drip where you release results over a long period, giving the opposition gains at first but as time wears on Zanu-PF pulls ahead." [....]
But on the same day, an article in the London Times reported that
Intensive diplomatic efforts were under way tonight to secure a face-saving exit for Mr Mugabe after 28 years as President of Zimbabwe amid increasing signs he was about to step down from power.

His closest cohorts informed him last night that he had failed to win an outright victory in the country’s weekend presidential poll. [....]

South Africa was leading the behind-the-scenes negotiations centring on a power-sharing deal that would see Mr Mugabe’s ruling Zanu (PF), which has ruled the country for 28 years, taking a vice-presidential slot.

Such a deal would also ensure that Mr Mugabe retained immunity from prosecution for any crimes committed in his authoritarian rule. "It is over for Mugabe. No one is now talking about him staying on, just somehow finding a graceful exit," the source added.

But a spokesman for Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) denied that there were any negotiations going on. [....]
More optimistic rumors circulating in Zimbabwe suggested that Mugabe was preparing to flee the country--but that was probably wishful thinking.

=> On Wednesday:
There are initial signs that the hawks around Mr. Mugabe may have the balance of power. Last night police raided MDC offices in a large Harare hotel. And 30 police officers in riot gear raided a small Harare hotel, detaining two foreign journalists, including New York Times correspondent Barry Bearak, and two consultants with pro-democracy organizations. [....]
Since this raid, MDC presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai has gone into hiding.

But there were also signs of continued disagreements and indecision with in the ruling elite. According to the best-informed speculation, some tendencies wanted Mugabe to go, some favored a non-nonsense resort to martial law, some favored using fraudulent vote-counts to pretend that Mugabe & ZANU-PF had actually won the elections ... and some favored cooking the election results just enough to force the MDC candidate for President, Morgan Tsvangirai, into a run-off:
Two factions of Zimbabwe's ZANU-PF party are battling over whether President Robert Mugabe should step down or instead participate in a runoff election after he failed to win an outright majority in last Saturday's poll, according to senior ruling party sources.

Hard-liners in his inner circle are pushing Mr. Mugabe to use "presidential powers" to postpone the second poll for 90 days, in order to buy time to regain the control they have lost on the country that ZANU-PF has run since independence 28 years ago. The other faction is encouraging the President to compromise with the opposition.

The power struggle between the camps has the rest of the country in a state of suspended animation, and makes clear that the fate of Zimbabwe rests, now, on the fear, false confidence and desire for retribution driving Mr. Mugabe and those around him. [....]

Hawks in ZANU-PF are insisting that Mr. Mugabe can win the runoff. Their position is stiffened by a determination to hold on to the vast personal wealth they have acquired as members of the governing elite presiding over Zimbabwe's implosion in the past eight years.

A few, including two of the security chiefs, the enforcer "youth league" and former intelligence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, believe that ZANU-PF, having captured the majority of the popular vote in parliamentary elections [JW: more wishful thinking], can win another contest outright, particularly if it makes use of rigging tactics, such as "ghost voters" and unannounced polling stations, which helped it win the last four elections here, according to international electoral observers. [....]

Others are less confident: A source with excellent knowledge of the country's finances said the government exhausted every dollar of precious foreign currency on last week's vote and has absolutely nothing left to put into a new campaign.

This faction is pushing the President to use presidential powers to postpone the second run for 90 days, effectively imposing a state of emergency. Under Zimbabwean law, the runoff must be held on April 19, three weeks from the first election. If the runoff is postponed, ZANU-PF would use that time to harden its control over a country where its structures govern everything from the price of bread to which village gets a bus or drugs for its clinic.

At the same time, members of Mr. Mugabe's family and many of his oldest friends are advising him not to stand again. They are urging that he cut a deal with the MDC that provides him a graceful way out and immunity from prosecution for human-rights abuses. [....]
=>Then, in a move that I confess surprised me, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announced the official results for the lower house of Parliament which gave the opposition a slim majority. From the New York Times report:
President Robert G. Mugabe and his party have lost control of the nation’s Parliament, official election returns showed Wednesday, giving new impetus to the bigger question: Does that foretell a loss of the presidency itself, the job he has held tightly for the past 28 years? [....]

With only 11 races to be declared, the Movement for Democratic Change, the opposition party, had 106 seats in all, including one for an allied independent, in the 210-seat assembly. Mr. Mugabe’s party — known as ZANU-PF — had only 93 seats, and among its losing candidates were seven of the president’s cabinet ministers. [....]
We can assume that these official results were fraudulent in that they almost certainly understated the margin of the opposition's victory at the polls. Nevertheless, this official announcement did acknowledge that the opposition had won a majority, and it appeared to signal that the ruling elite might be getting ready to accept the verdict of the electorate and relinquish its grip on power.

=> Apparently not. Today, in a post appropriately titled "Theatre of the absurd," Norman Geras pointed to a Sunday Times piece by the formidable South African journalist R.W. Johnson whose headline captures the central thrust of the analysis: "Opposition braced for dirty war as Mugabe clings on to power". But the details are complex and interesting, so read the whole thing.

Anything by R.W. Johnson always needs to be taken very seriously; but as Norm was careful to point out, much of this analysis is necessarily based on informed speculation and well-sourced rumor rather than established facts.
I introduce the report below by R.W. Johnson with that caveat. Even if it's approximately accurate, it is hard not to be struck by the bizarre nature of what is now going on [....]

The key players don't like the outcome of the procedure that Zimbabwe has just gone through. So they think about manipulating it, even though to do so makes it worthless from the point of view of conferring legitimacy. Some of the players understand this and advise that it shouldn't be too severely manipulated, as doing that will convince no one; it should be manipulated just a bit. The world waits and watches. Everyone suspects that something like this must be going on. From 'sources' we learn that something like this probably is going on. Those who wish to benefit from manipulating the result act as if they are quite deluded. They think someone will be taken in by this grotesque farce. Or they don't care. Or perhaps they are cosmic dramatists.
Some highlights from Johnson's piece (but read the whole thing below):
Zimbabwe was bracing itself yesterday for the possibility that President Robert Mugabe, forced into an expected election runoff against his opposition challenger Morgan Tsvangirai, could mobilise an army of thugs to beat, intimidate and terrify voters, while taking emergency powers to vary the electoral regulations so as to make ballot-stuffing easier. [....]

The official tally has yet to be declared and when MDC lawyers went to the High Court yesterday in an attempt to force an announcement, their way into the building was blocked by police from Mugabe’s office over the road. One of the lawyers, Alec Muchadehama, said the police had threatened to shoot them. The case was eventually postponed until today.

The longer the delay in announcing the presidential election result, opposition activists say, the more time Mugabe will have to mobilise his forces. Reports yesterday suggested that attempts to intimidate the opposition could already be under way. [....]

Yesterday’s events followed a week of claim and counterclaim about Mugabe’s intentions. At one point it was reported that he was negotiating a dignified exit and yesterday there were suggestions that his wife Grace was demanding that he resign to protect the interests of their children. There was no corroboration of these reports.

The Sunday Times has learnt the inside story of what happened last Sunday, the day after the poll. By Sunday afternoon the theoretically independent Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the body under Justice George Chiurshe which is charged with conducting the elections, communicated its initial estimates of the result to the Zanu-PF politburo: Tsvangirai 58%, Robert Mugabe 27% and Makoni 15%. These estimates were based on too narrow an urban sample and were too favourable to Tsvangirai and his MDC, but the message was clear: Mugabe had lost. The politburo, particularly Mugabe himself, hit the roof.

According to an account sourced to a commission official, Mugabe then ordered it to declare him elected with 53%. He was angry at Makoni’s “treachery” and demanded that his vote be reduced to 5%.

This produced resistance from the commission and also from the army, police and intelligence chiefs.

The commission objected that manipulation of the results on such a huge scale would be too obvious, while the security chiefs were concerned that the country might become ungovernable if the popular will was so blatantly flouted.

At this stage Thabo Mbeki, South Africa’s president, took a hand - he was continuously on the phone from Pretoria and had his emissaries in Harare. Mbeki’s overweening interest is to maintain Zanu-PF in power as a sister liberation movement of his own African National Congress. He fears a possible domino effect throughout southern Africa if a movement that had wrested power from the whites in a liberation war is seen to fail and perhaps then fall to bits.

However, Mbeki wants Mugabe to go. Instead, he would like Makoni to succeed - a younger, modernising technocrat who would, he hopes, restore both his party’s and his country’s fortunes.

Out of Mbeki’s discussions came the notion that the results should be “adjusted” so that Tsvangirai was brought back under the 50% mark, perhaps to 47%-49%, while Mugabe could get 41% and Makoni 10%-12%.

With no candidate over 50% this would produce the necessity of a second-round runoff and Mugabe should then withdraw, leaving Zanu-PF to rally behind Makoni. Provided the security forces could be given a strong role in the way that the runoff was organised and conducted, Makoni could then be given just over 50% and Tsvangirai kept out. [....]

The proposal stitched together by Mbeki might have worked, provided the armed forces were willing to give Makoni some fairly muscular support.

“We were saved from this outcome,” an MDC source said, “by our most reliable ally, Robert Mugabe, who absolutely refused to stand down.”

This brought matters back to square one, leaving the security chiefs and the electoral commission in disarray. Constantine Chiwenga, head of the armed forces, together with Mugabe’s cousin, Perence Shiri, are said to have wanted the army to take power itself. They were faced down by others, including Philip Sibanda, the head of the army, and Augustine Chihuri, the police commissioner.

Chris Mbanga, Tsvangirai’s chief of staff, said he had also heard of the coup plot. “But the fact is they couldn’t have got far,” he said. “We have our own people in there at every level and they would have resisted. The police and the army want change too, you know.”

Meanwhile, the drama had shifted to the [electoral] commission’s command centre [....]

By Monday the police and army were everywhere on the streets and a few independent websites were showing the MDC running well ahead of Zanu-PF in both the parliamentary elections and the presidential poll.

Most people were dependent on state television which leaked out the parliamentary results at a snail’s pace, always leaving Zanu-PF one ahead of MDC. Of the presidential results there was no word.

Ordinary Zimbabweans had no idea of the drama being played out. So terrible has been the toll of the Mugabe years that the struggle just to stay alive preoccupies those who are left - so many have died and at least a third of the population has fled the country. Among those who remain, 80% are unemployed and most go hungry. [....]

When the parliamentary results finally came out, the state media tried to depict the situation as a tie when the opposition had clearly won. The MDC had 99 seats, Zanu-PF 96. The MDC splinter party led by Arthur Mutambara had 11 and there was one (pro-Tsvangirai) independent. Three candidates had died before election day, but all in almost certain MDC seats so the combined opposition has 111 out of 217 seats today and will end up with 114 out of 220. [....]

As the week progressed the tension grew but observers sensed on every hand the resistance of the Zanu-PF state, facing a situation it had never dreamt of. Mugabe called a meeting of the Zanu-PF high command and, as usual, imposed his will. There would be a runoff and he would run, and meanwhile the opposition and foreign journalists would be put in their place. Armed police duly raided MDC offices and hotels housing foreign journalists.

Ahead lies a bruising second round. It is quite possible that Mugabe will break the constitution and insist on a three-month gap before a second round, using that period to try to smash the MDC and terrify the electorate into voting him back in. But the odds are against him now.
Let's hope so.

--Jeff Weintraub
==============================
Sunday Times (London)
April 6, 2008
Opposition braced for dirty war as Mugabe clings on to power
The beleaguered president has been accused of mobilising militias to settle Zimbabwe’s election the hard way

By R W Johnson in Harare

ZIMBABWE was bracing itself yesterday for the possibility that President Robert Mugabe, forced into an expected election runoff against his opposition challenger Morgan Tsvangirai, could mobilise an army of thugs to beat, intimidate and terrify voters, while taking emergency powers to vary the electoral regulations so as to make ballot-stuffing easier.

Both Britain and the United States are exercising strong diplomatic pressure on Mugabe not to follow this route. But some diplomatic observers believe that it may be the ageing despot’s only way of keeping his vow to die in State House.

Mugabe’s deputy information minister, Bright Matonga, who claimed last week that the president’s Zanu-PF party had let him down in the first round of voting, predicted a resounding victory in the second, saying: “We only applied 25% of our energy in the first round. That [the runoff] is when we are going to unleash the other 75%.”

What will be unleashed, according to leaders of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), are war veterans, pro-government militia and the security forces in a display of brute force aimed at enabling Mugabe, 84, to cling to power.

Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, who warned that Mugabe was about to launch a “war against the people” said his party was reluctant to take part in any runoff because of the growing risks of violence. In any case, he argued, there was no need for one because he had won last weekend’s presidential election outright and was already forming a new government.

He called Mugabe a lame duck president who “must concede to allow us to move on with the business of rebuilding and reconstructing the country”.

According to the MDC, Tsvangirai secured 50.3% of the vote, enough to be named president. It is understood that Mugabe’s politburo was briefed on Friday that Tsvangirai had won 47.7%, compared with 43.4% for Mugabe and the remainder for Simba Makoni, a former finance minister expelled by Zanu-PF. If confirmed, this result would require a runoff.

The official tally has yet to be declared and when MDC lawyers went to the High Court yesterday in an attempt to force an announcement, their way into the building was blocked by police from Mugabe’s office over the road. One of the lawyers, Alec Muchadehama, said the police had threatened to shoot them. The case was eventually postponed until today.

The longer the delay in announcing the presidential election result, opposition activists say, the more time Mugabe will have to mobilise his forces.

Reports yesterday suggested that attempts to intimidate the opposition could already be under way. According to one African news agency, Zimbabwean soldiers beat supporters of the MDC in some parts of the country to punish them for “premature” election victory celebrations. At least 17 people were said to have been beaten so badly that they had to be taken to hospital.

The war veterans - 1,000 of whom marched through Harare in silence on Friday - accused the MDC of defying the law by putting out results before the official electoral commission was ready. The tactics were “a provocation against freedom fighters”, said the veterans. They vowed to repel any attempt by white farmers ousted since 2000 to repossess land which is now held by black Zimbabweans.

“The election has been seen as a way to reopen the invasion of our people by whites,” said Jabulani Sibanda, their leader. “We cannot just sit back when there are all these provocations.”

Zanu-PF’s youth brigades, known as “green bombers” because of their military style of clothing, were said to be ready to return to action alongside the veterans, evoking memories of the pounding of opposition supporters – some of whom had their homes burnt down - in past campaigns.

Yesterday’s events followed a week of claim and counterclaim about Mugabe’s intentions. At one point it was reported that he was negotiating a dignified exit and yesterday there were suggestions that his wife Grace was demanding that he resign to protect the interests of their children. There was no corroboration of these reports.

The Sunday Times has learnt the inside story of what happened last Sunday, the day after the poll. By Sunday afternoon the theoretically independent Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the body under Justice George Chiurshe which is charged with conducting the elections, communicated its initial estimates of the result to the Zanu-PF politburo: Tsvangirai 58%, Robert Mugabe 27% and Makoni 15%. These estimates were based on too narrow an urban sample and were too favourable to Tsvangirai and his MDC, but the message was clear: Mugabe had lost. The politburo, particularly Mugabe himself, hit the roof.

According to an account sourced to a commission official, Mugabe then ordered it to declare him elected with 53%. He was angry at Makoni’s “treachery” and demanded that his vote be reduced to 5%.

This produced resistance from the commission and also from the army, police and intelligence chiefs.

The commission objected that manipulation of the results on such a huge scale would be too obvious, while the security chiefs were concerned that the country might become ungovernable if the popular will was so blatantly flouted.

At this stage Thabo Mbeki, South Africa’s president, took a hand - he was continuously on the phone from Pretoria and had his emissaries in Harare. Mbeki’s overweening interest is to maintain Zanu-PF in power as a sister liberation movement of his own African National Congress. He fears a possible domino effect throughout southern Africa if a movement that had wrested power from the whites in a liberation war is seen to fail and perhaps then fall to bits.

However, Mbeki wants Mugabe to go. Instead, he would like Makoni to succeed - a younger, modernising technocrat who would, he hopes, restore both his party’s and his country’s fortunes.

Out of Mbeki’s discussions came the notion that the results should be “adjusted” so that Tsvangirai was brought back under the 50% mark, perhaps to 47%-49%, while Mugabe could get 41% and Makoni 10%-12%.

With no candidate over 50% this would produce the necessity of a second-round runoff and Mugabe should then withdraw, leaving Zanu-PF to rally behind Makoni. Provided the security forces could be given a strong role in the way that the runoff was organised and conducted, Makoni could then be given just over 50% and Tsvangirai kept out.

As word spread into the South African media that Mbeki had been heavily engaged, his office quickly denied that he had been involved at all. By the end of the week Mbeki was publicly appealing for all sides to respect the vote, whatever it had been.

At a conference on progressive governance convened by Gordon Brown in Hertfordshire yesterday, Mbeki told the international community to wait for the full election results, saying it was not time for action. “No, it’s time to wait,” he said.

The proposal stitched together by Mbeki might have worked, provided the armed forces were willing to give Makoni some fairly muscular support.

“We were saved from this outcome,” an MDC source said, “by our most reliable ally, Robert Mugabe, who absolutely refused to stand down.”

This brought matters back to square one, leaving the security chiefs and the electoral commission in disarray. Constantine Chiwenga, head of the armed forces, together with Mugabe’s cousin, Perence Shiri, are said to have wanted the army to take power itself. They were faced down by others, including Philip Sibanda, the head of the army, and Augustine Chihuri, the police commissioner.

Chris Mbanga, Tsvangirai’s chief of staff, said he had also heard of the coup plot. “But the fact is they couldn’t have got far,” he said. “We have our own people in there at every level and they would have resisted. The police and the army want change too, you know.”

Meanwhile, the drama had shifted to the commission’s command centre where Mbanga sat monitoring the parliamentary and presidential results for the MDC as they came through. With the electoral register absurdly out of date and so many having fled or died, the voting totals were often very small.

Mbanga suddenly began to notice some considerable anomalies. In general, in every constituency Tsvangirai was running well ahead of the score achieved by the MDC parliamentary candidate - but he noticed that in Budiriro the MDC candidate had won more than 15,000 votes and Tsvangirai only 12,000. Then he noticed that at Mount Darwin West in Mashonaland North, Vice-President Joyce Mujuru had won 6,071 votes according to the tallies posted up outside the polling stations there, but the commission had given her 13,270. Similarly, at Shamva North in Mashonaland West, the cabinet minister Nicholas Goche had won 4,195 votes, according to the polling station tallies, but the commission credited him with 10,385.

“Once I saw this and some more very fishy figures indeed coming in for Mashonaland Central, I just said, okay, I’m not signing for anything more,” he explained.

Instead, Mbanga insisted on an audit of every single seat, with all the original tally papers from all the polling stations brought in so they could be compared. Thus, while Mugabe has been widely blamed for not declaring the results more quickly, it is the opposition that has made counting such a slow process in its determination to prevent cheating.

By Monday the police and army were everywhere on the streets and a few independent websites were showing the MDC running well ahead of Zanu-PF in both the parliamentary elections and the presidential poll.

Most people were dependent on state television which leaked out the parliamentary results at a snail’s pace, always leaving Zanu-PF one ahead of MDC. Of the presidential results there was no word.

Ordinary Zimbabweans had no idea of the drama being played out. So terrible has been the toll of the Mugabe years that the struggle just to stay alive preoccupies those who are left - so many have died and at least a third of the population has fled the country. Among those who remain, 80% are unemployed and most go hungry.

Every morning begins in the towns with huge queues outside banks and building societies, for nobody may withdraw more than Z$500m a day - about £6.

Harare is the only city where you can see large-denomination banknotes scattered on the pavement. So rapid has inflation become that all notes bear an expiry date after which they are invalid and the central bank adds another nought or two to the next set of notes. People just tear up invalid notes and throw them away.

When you speak to people in the queues you realise how beaten down they are. “I have three children, all hungry. I’ve sold everything in the house except a table and our beds,” said Margaret Zimondi, a secretary.

“We’re just waiting to hear that Mugabe rigged the elections again, as usual,” said Learnmore Maposa, a carpenter.

“Things are much worse in the countryside,” he added. “I went to see my mother in her village last weekend. They can’t cook on oil stoves any more because the price of diesel is too high, so they have to cook with electricity. Often there is none, so they just go to bed hungry night after night. My mother can’t weigh more than 35kg [77lb] now. In our village so many have died already. I am frightened for her.”

When the parliamentary results finally came out, the state media tried to depict the situation as a tie when the opposition had clearly won. The MDC had 99 seats, Zanu-PF 96. The MDC splinter party led by Arthur Mutambara had 11 and there was one (pro-Tsvangirai) independent. Three candidates had died before election day, but all in almost certain MDC seats so the combined opposition has 111 out of 217 seats today and will end up with 114 out of 220.

This result alone would make it difficult for a Zanu-PF president to govern. The party promptly accused the MDC of bribing officials in 16 constituencies and demanded that the results be overturned.

As the week progressed the tension grew but observers sensed on every hand the resistance of the Zanu-PF state, facing a situation it had never dreamt of. Mugabe called a meeting of the Zanu-PF high command and, as usual, imposed his will. There would be a runoff and he would run, and meanwhile the opposition and foreign journalists would be put in their place. Armed police duly raided MDC offices and hotels housing foreign journalists.

Ahead lies a bruising second round. It is quite possible that Mugabe will break the constitution and insist on a three-month gap before a second round, using that period to try to smash the MDC and terrify the electorate into voting him back in. But the odds are against him now.
--------------------
£1bn aid plan

A vigorous aid programme to rebuild Zimbabwe’s economy, society and agriculture would quickly follow an opposition victory, with Britain in a prominent role, writes David Watts.

With £1 billion to be spent, the International Monetary Fund would take the lead in stabilising the currency - inflation is forecast to hit 500,000% by May. The plan would also involve the World Bank, UN and EU. Britain is already putting £45m into the country over the next two years to help HIV/Aids victims and to provide food, shelter and education. More could be made available to help to resettle refugees - there are 800,000 in South Africa alone.

Video: Government begins Zimbabwe crackdown (April 2, 2008)
Video: Sir David Frost interviews Morgan Tsvangirai (November 23, 2007)

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