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Published 9th July 2004

Vol 45 No 14


Fears of famine

President Mugabe has laughed off forecasts of another food crisis; now the UN presents the evidence

United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation analysts predict chronic food shortages in a damning new report on Zimbabwe obtained by Africa Confidential. It says 'an estimated 30-40 per cent of farmers may run out of food from their own production' by the end of this month and that poor farmers' 'coping mechanisms will be stretched to breaking point'. The FAO report forecasts a maize harvest of just 708,00 tonnes ­ that's less than a third of the 2.4 million-tonne 'bumper harvest' confidently predicted by President Robert Mugabe and his officials a month ago (AC Vol 45 Nos 10 & 11). Some 15,000 tonnes of imported maize have arrived in Zimbabwe in the last six weeks. The government, according to the UN report, will have to import at least another 325,000 tonnes of cereals ­ although Mugabe insists that Zimbabwe doesn't need food aid. Even with secret tobacco-for-maize deals with American companies such as Sentry Financial and Dimon Incorporated, the government will be hard-pressed to finance that level of imports.

The limits of power

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Pretoria's new diplomats win continental plaudits but face more chaos in their neighbourhood

Pretoria's expansionists are having a good year. Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma was elected to the chair of the African Union's newly formed Peace and Security Council and...

No peace without justice

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Freetown's war crimes court slowly establishes a precedent

While the spotlight shines on the trial of Slobodan Milosevic in the Hague and the indictment of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, the trial of some of those deemed most responsible for S...

No preference

As global rules are renegotiated, Africa may get left behind again

Only seven heads of state turned up for the summit of African, Caribbean and Pacific states in Maputo on 23-24 June. Africa looks set to lose the secretary general's post, held sin...

HIPC Junction

Depending on donors is no easy task for a government which wants to get re-elected

Ghanaians call it 'going HIPC': signing up to debt relief as prescribed under the World Bank's and International Monetary Fund's Highly Indebted Poor Countries initiative. Presiden...

Chinese puzzle

Breaking a deafening government silence since a controversial Chinese loan agreement was rushed through parliament at the end of its last sitting in April, the embattled Finance an...


419, and counting

Advanced Fee Frauds or '419s', have become as common in Ghana as in Nigeria, where they were invented. Ghanaian banks have published warnings in the press that their signatures or ...

The net widens

Officials in Abuja are intensifying a probe into commissions of more than US$180 million on a gas export plant following Africa Confidential's report last month that Nigeria's bigg...