ZIMBABWE Maize-meal for votes 14th May 2004 ZANU-PF strategists believe that a new plan to lock out foreign food aid and hold early elections will bring certain victory The government's order to a United Nations' crop assessment team to leave the country last weekend is part of its strategy to maintain tight political control over food supply and score a resounding win in the coming parliamentary elections. The order effectively blocks UN and European preparations to provide the food aid estimated to be needed by more than 5 million people this year. President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front government didn't want the UN team to produce figures that show that this year's harvest would fall far short of Zimbabwe's food requirement. That would expose the failure of the land reform programme and lead to hundreds of UN and aid agency officials handing out food aid in the run-up to an election. So political insiders now believe that Mugabe's ruling clique has decided to bring forward the parliamentary elections to October, before the food runs out completely.