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11 February 2009

While politicians have been at an impasse for nearly a year, Zimbabweans are caught in an intensifying economic and humanitarian nightmare. A glance at the crises they face: [...] HUNGER The U.N. food program says 7 million Zimbabweans — 80 percent of the population by some estimates — need food aid. Unemployment and spiraling prices have put food out of the reach of many Zimbabweans. Agriculture production has plummeted since Mugabe ordered an often violent land reform campaign in 2000 that saw farms go to his cronies instead of the poor blacks he has championed.


11 February 2009

Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition party, has taken a brave step. On Wednesday February 11th, more than ten months after success for his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the first round of presidential and parliamentary elections, Mr Tsvangirai became prime minister. In theory at least, he will share power with the man who swore him into office: President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980. [...] Zimbabwe, once one of the most prosperous countries in Africa, is in a dire state. Millions now depend on food aid; many are starving.


11 February 2009

Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister, opening the way for the establishment of a coalition government with President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party. Tsvangirai’s appointment today may end a political crisis that erupted after disputed elections in March. [...] Zimbabwe is facing shortages of food, fuel and other basic commodities. At least 6.9 million Zimbabweans, or more than half of the population, need emergency food rations, according to the UN’s World Food Programme. A quarter of the population has fled the country.


10 February 2009

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai takes the prime minister's oath Wednesday as part of a power-sharing agreement with longtime President Robert Mugabe that Zimbabweans hope will bring help as they suffer through economic and humanitarian crises. [...] The coalition agreement calls for the government to make its priority reviving an economy the opposition accuses Mugabe of destroying through corruption and mismanagement. The world's highest inflation rate has left millions of Zimbabweans dependent on international food aid to survive.


9 February 2009

Zimbabwe has suspended import duties on a list of scarce basic food items, including rice and cooking oil, for the first six months of 2009, state-run media reported on Monday. [...] The new measure, valid until June 30, would be reviewed depending on the expansion of the country’s industrial capacity to meet local need, the report added. Figures in January from the World Food Programme indicated that more than half of Zimbabwe’s 12 million people did not have enough to eat. An estimated three million Zimbabweans have fled the country’s economic and political instability, and are now supporting their families with both cash and food.


7 February 2009

Humanitarian groups are warning that more than half the people in Zimbabwe will be dependent on food aid by the end of the year. The World Food Programme said that the food situation was "very serious and very critical in many areas" in the country once called the breadbasket of Africa. "We estimated back in June 2008 that around five million people in Zimbabwe would need food assistance," Richard Lee, a WFP spokesman in Johannesburg, South Africa, told Al Jazeera on Saturday. "The figure now is around seven million people - well over half the population. It is a very, very serious situation; very critical in many areas."


6 February 2009

On January 30th, after months of repeatedly failed negotiations, Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition, decided to enter a government of national unity alongside President Robert Mugabe. More accurately, Mr Tsvangirai at last bowed to the huge political and diplomatic pressure exerted on him by South Africa and other regional countries to do a deal. [...] Contrary to frequent misreporting in Zimbabwe, Western sanctions are targeted very narrowly at Mr Mugabe and those senior ZANU-PF politicians who have helped bring a once-prosperous country to its knees. They have played no part in Zimbabwe’s economic ruin; that is mostly Made in Zimbabwe. Humanitarian aid should continue to flow to those United Nations agencies and NGOs that are directly helping millions of desperately poor and cholera-infected ordinary Zimbabweans.


6 February 2009

On a recent school day morning, Florence Marembo was all dressed up with nowhere to study: The 12-year-old instead played with a dozen other students on the grounds of her school in a suburb of Zimbabwe's capital. Her teachers at Gwinyiro Primary School said they wouldn't work until the government pays them in foreign currency because they can't even afford the bus fare amid the country's economic meltdown. [...] The swift decline of an education system that once was the pride of the region has matched the general unraveling of Zimbabwe's economy and infrastructure as President Robert Mugabe clings to the power he has held for 28 years. Aid groups warn the closures also mean that hundreds of thousands of children will go hungry unless the schools open because it's the only place many children can get a proper meal. [...] The U.N. World Food Program has increased its estimate of the number of Zimbabweans in need of emergency food aid from 5 million to 7 million. Zimbabwe's population was set at 12 million in a 2002 census, but more than a quarter of the population has fled the country's political and economic crisis since then.


4 February 2009

Despite Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai joining the government of national unity last week and the government changing policy to allow businesses to charge in foreign currencies, local retailers are not leaping to be the first back into the country that was once known as Africa’s bread basket. [...] The country is [...] in the middle of a humanitarian crisis. The World Health Organisation has put the number of cholera deaths at more than 3000 while about 7-million Zimbabweans need food aid, up from 5,1-million six months ago, according to the World Food Programme.


4 February 2009

The US says it will only consider easing sanctions against Zimbabwe when it sees evidence of real power-sharing between the rival parties. A state department spokesman said new aid for Harare was dependant on inclusive and effective governance. The statement comes a day after a similar announcement by the UK. Meanwhile, parliament has delayed a debate on changes to the constitution to allow opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to become prime minister. [...] Zimbabwe is enduring rampant inflation and an escalating food crisis.