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Thursday November 7, 2002
THE United States yesterday distanced itself from threats to invade Zimbabwe amid revelations that three MDC activists from Matabeleland presented falsehoods on the situation in this country at a meeting set up by the British in Washington last Saturday.
The US embassy in Harare said that no US government official had made such a threat.
"We believe that only the people of Zimbabwe can solve their nation's problems," said the embassy in a statement last night.
The assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Mr Mark Bellamy, had been quoted in the Washington Times as saying the US was considering intrusive and interventionist measures that could challenge Zimbabwe's sovereignty.
"The dilemmas in the next six months may bring us face to face with Zimbabwe's sovereignty," he said in the Washington Times.
Mr Bellamy made his remarks at a meeting on "Famine and Political Violence in Matebeleland" organised by the Londoned-based Zimbabwe Democracy Trust (ZDT) and sponsored by the Centre for International and Strategic Studies.
Three MDC activists on the ZDT panel were: a former magistrate Johnson Mnkandla; Bulawayo Residents Association president Edward Simela and Ernest Mtunzi who now lives in Britain.
A former secretary at the British High Commission in Harare, David Troup chaired the meeting.
ZDT is funded by the British just like the Amani Trust, a non-governmental organisation, which has been on the forefront of campaigning against the Government of Zimbabwe.
The three said they had come to Washington to raise awareness on an impending human rights catastrophe and famine in their tribal homeland.
They charged the Government and Zanu-PF with stifling the rule of law through the arrest and harassment of magistrates and using food relief as a political weapon.
In their presentations, the three distributed a document they claimed revealed a Zanu-PF strategy to destroy the Ndebele people.
They also claimed that three children had died in Binga as a result of the unfair distribution of food.
Other issues raised by the three include the Gukurahundi disturbances in Matabeleland in the early 1980s and unemployment which they said was caused by the firms that were relocating from Bulawayo to Harare.
The three also claimed that some women at Mpilo Hospital were being sterilised without their consent and that this was a strategy to reduce the Ndebele population.
It was after the three had presented their reports that Mr Bellamy said the US would find ways of intervening in Zimbabwe even if it means violating Zimbabwe's sovereignty.
A Government spokesman however, said: "You cannot find a more sinister manipulation of food than this one. We have had people threatening to invade other countries on terrorism charges but to threaten to invade our country in order to come and feed us is idiotic."
He linked the threat by the US to recent utterances by the MDC that "something was to happen in December".
Commenting on Mr Bellamy's utterances, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cde Stan Mudenge said the issue had not been communicated to him officially by the US ambassador in Harare.
"The reports by three people from Matabeleland were just a pack of falsehoods," said Cde Mudenge.
Meanwhile, Cde Mudenge yesterday left for Maputo, Mozambique to attend the Sadc/EU ministerial dialogue.
He said the meeting's venue was switched from Copenhagen, Denmark to Maputo, Mozambique following a threat by Sadc to boycott the meeting if Zimbabwe was not allowed to attend.
As a member of the EU, which slapped sanctions against the Government, Denmark had barred Zimbabwe's Foreign Affairs Minister and other top officials from attending the meeting.
He said the Maputo meeting would focus on various issues of co-operation.
Guardian UK Report: US may intervene to save Zimbabweans
Top official says administration is considering defying Mugabe and delivering food to starving opposition areas
Andrew Meldrum in Harare
Thursday November 7, 2002
The US government warned yesterday that it might take "intrusive, interventionist measures" to deliver food aid directly to millions of famine-hit Zimbabweans if President Robert Mugabe continues to starve his political opponents.
Washington is considering measures that would challenge Zimbabwe's sovereignty, the Guardian was told by Mark Bellamy, the principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Africa. Such drastic measures are being studied because the Mugabe regime is aggravating the effects of a region-wide famine by blocking food from areas which support the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), he added.
"We may have to be prepared to take some very intrusive, interventionist measures to ensure aid delivery to Zimbabwe," Mr Bellamy said by telephone from Washington.
The plan was disclosed in the Zimbabwean state-owned Herald newspaper under the headline "US plans to invade Harare".
A spokesman for Mr Mugabe said other African countries should take heed of "the mad talk of intrusive and interventionist challenges to Zimbabwe's sovereignty. Today it is about Zimbabwe. Heaven knows who is next", he said.
Mr Bellamy, who develops US policy on Africa, said: "We have disturbing reports of food being used as a political weapon by the Mugabe government, of food aid being diverted and food being denied to millions of opposition supporters.
"For the sake of those hungry people it may be necessary for us to undertake intrusive delivery and monitoring of food. The dilemmas in the next six months may bring us face to face with Zimbabwe's sovereignty."
He said Mr Mugabe was "holding his people hostage the way Saddam Hussein is holding his people hostage".
Mr Mugabe and other Zimbabwean officials deny using aid as a political weapon. They maintain that food relief is distributed freely and fairly.
Harare accuses U.S. in food flap
By David R. Sands November 7, 2002
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Zimbabwe yesterday accused the Bush administration of using the famine threatening southern Africa as a pretext to invade or undermine the government of President Robert Mugabe.
"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," the state-owned Zimbabwe Herald, considered an accurate mirror of government opinion, said in a front-page story yesterday.
The U.S. Embassy in Harare issued a statement denying the accusations, but Zimbabwe army Chief of Staff Gen. Vitalis Zvinavashe told the newspaper the U.S. government was trying to control private relief groups distributing food and aid in the country "and disregard the laws of Zimbabwe."
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