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THE United States is planning to invade Zimbabwe within the next six months on the pretext of bringing relief aid to people who were allegedly being denied food on political grounds.
In a thinly-veiled military threat, deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Mark Bellamy, was quoted on Saturday as saying the US was considering intrusive and interventionist measures that could challenge Zimbabwean sovereignty.
"The dilemmas in the next six months may bring us face to face with Zimbabwe's sovereignty," Bellamy was quoted as saying in The Washington Times.
He gave no details of methods.
President George Bush's administration has declared its intentions to oust the Zimbabwe Government using the opposition MDC, three Southern African countries and so-called-independent journalists in Zimbabwe.
It became clear that the US government latched onto an isolated and unverified incident in Matabeleland South where the World Food Programme suspended its food aid distribution alleging that Zanu-PF youths had confiscated three tonnes of maize and then distributed it in an unfair manner.
While the Americans are trying to blow this incident out of proportion to justify the intervention, the WFP has announced that it would be doubling its relief efforts in Zimbabwe this month.
In its latest humanitarian report on Zimbabwe, the United Nations said WFP was on track to dramatically increase its food distributions in the coming months.
"The November distribution plan calls for approximately 50 000 metric tonnes of food to be distributed to some three million beneficiaries in 35 districts. WFP has plans to feed 5,9 million people by January of next year, provided the necessary capacity and donor resources are made available.
"The 10 implementing NGO partners of WFP are engaged in a massive registration effort nationwide. In the past month, they have doubled the number of registered beneficiaries to over 1,9 million.
"The vast majority of the new beneficiaries will receive WFP relief food before the end of October. In principle, an NGO partner is now organised to operate in each of the 57 districts."
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the review of food distribution methods arose after the Zimbabwean authorities allegedly seized grain the World Food Programme was distributing and gave it to supporters of the Government.
"Politicalisation of food distribution by the ruling party in the face of an urgent need and real human suffering is very cynical. It's a very self-serving response to a major humanitarian catastrophe," he told a briefing.
"We need to look very carefully at this situation to make sure that we can monitor the use of the food and make sure it goes to the neediest of people without any political consideration. So we're looking at that now," he added.
A Government spokesman yesterday said the Bush government should be concerned with their mid-term congressional elections where they are facing defeat amid allegations of pre-vote rigging.
"This little fellow (US assistant secretary for African Affairs) was either blank, mad or both and if he was speaking for his government the same will apply to it," said the government spokesman.
He said one would have thought the Bush administration had enough on its hands with mid-term congressional elections where it was facing defeat, amid allegations of pre-vote rigging in Florida where Bush's brother was said to be precariously holding to dear political life.
"Meanwhile Sadc and the African Union should take note of the mad talk about intrusive and interventionist challenges to Zimbabwe's sovereignty. Today its about Zimbabwe, heavens knows who is next in Sadc or the AU."
The spokesman said the statements by the US junior official comes from one smarting from the crushing defeat in Insiza and that more and better results were yet to come so they were running scared and desperate.
Army chief General Vitalis Zvinavashe said the real issue behind the US threats was the loss of the opposition MDC in the just ended Insiza by-election and not the politicisation of food relief.
"What they wanted to happen did not happen so now they want to use the NGOs which they control to influence the people in Zimbabwe. The threats are just baseless," said General Zvinavashe.
He said the US was using the issue of food to intervene in the domestic affairs of Zimbabwe.
"We are not answerable to the US. They are using food as a scapegoat so as to directly control NGOs distributing food and disregard the laws of Zimbabwe," General Zvinavashe said.
Some other analysts have described the threats by the US as typical of that country's arrogance.
International relations analyst Mr Chris Mutsvangwa said the US was abusing its superpower position in a unipolar world.
"It looks like the Americans are trying to encourage various NGOs in Zimbabwe especially those from the Anglo-Saxon world to go beyond the role of food relief in a situation of severe drought to assume the mantle of political commissars for the purpose of the British long desired regime change in the country," said Mr Mutsangwa.
He said it would be unfortunate if the US intervened in the country's domestic affairs because the issue of Zimbabwe had never risen as an agenda item at any of the UN meetings.
"One would hope that as founder member of the UN and a member of the Security Council, Washington would take whatever perceived differences it may have with Zimbabwe to the UN, which is the custodian of the sovereignty of nations rather than resorting to unilateral threats.
Mr Mutsvangwa said there was nothing fundamentally wrong in Zimbabwe that would warrant the US to take interventionist measures.
University of Zimbabwe lecturer and political analyst Dr Rino Zhuwarara the attempt to engage in interventionist acts was illegal in that it is a violation of international law.
"It's an expression of arrogance and hegemony in the post-cold war era. These are people who are drunk with power. Its coming across like the US is the only source of charity, which is not the truth. We are getting food from various sources," said Dr Zhuwarara.
He said that the US might want to intervene in Zimbabwe by dropping food to those that they allege to be discriminated like what they did in Afghanistan.
"They dropped bags of food and bombs with the inscription; Made in America so it is not clear if they do not want to do the same in Zimbabwe," said Dr Zhuwarara.
He, however, said unlike in Afghanistan where the US had dislodged a sitting government in favour of its own puppets the situation was different in Zimbabwe.
Dr Zhuwarara said the US felt hopeless because its favoured political party is continuously losing elections.
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