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Le Zimbabwe A Besoin D'aide

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Je ne sais pas si je vaux mieux que ça: c'est (presque) une question honnête, connaissant la forte sympathie de Stengers pour le Congo belge. Franchement, je ne suis pas certain que ce soit chez lui qu'on trouvera le bilan le plus équilibré de cette période de l'histoire (pas plus chez Hoschild, évidemment).

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Je ne sais pas si je vaux mieux que ça: c'est (presque) une question honnête, connaissant la forte sympathie de Stengers pour le Congo belge. Franchement, je ne suis pas certain que ce soit chez lui qu'on trouvera le bilan le plus équilibré de cette période de l'histoire (pas plus chez Hoschild, évidemment).

On peut lire les deux. Et toi, Taseï, tu recommandes.

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Je ne sais pas si je vaux mieux que ça: c'est (presque) une question honnête, connaissant la forte sympathie de Stengers pour le Congo belge. Franchement, je ne suis pas certain que ce soit chez lui qu'on trouvera le bilan le plus équilibré de cette période de l'histoire (pas plus chez Hoschild, évidemment).

Je n'ai pas ta connaissance de ses sympathies, je ne peux donc pas me prononcer, mais ce bouquin (et pas que celui-là) m'a paru le plus objectif possible.

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As-tu lu Diamond? Pour le qualifier de culturaliste, il faut le lire en diagonale véloce.

On a eu cette discussion sur le forum en 2004, donc a priori je n'ai pas envie de la refaire aujourd'hui. Pose-toi toutefois une question : comment se fait-il que tous les bouquins de Diamond soient traduits en français ?

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On a eu cette discussion sur le forum en 2004, donc a priori je n'ai pas envie de la refaire aujourd'hui. Pose-toi toutefois une question : comment se fait-il que tous les bouquins de Diamond soient traduits en français ?

Ca doit se vendre.

Les idées ne sont pas une marchandise!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Mais combien de temps arrivera-t-il encore à tenir?

Threats to Mugabe

Business Day (Johannesburg)


February 23, 2007

Posted to the web February 23, 2007


ROBERT Mugabe has impressive political survival skills. But the Zimbabwean president now faces unprecedented threats to his rule.

The latest sign of that came this week when, on his 83rd birthday, Mugabe banned all political rallies in an attempt to thwart an insurrection. The official annual inflation rate is nearly 1600%, the highest in the world. And there is now widespread dissatisfaction in Zimbabwe about the economic ruin Mugabe has wreaked on his country. Doctors, nurses, university lecturers and teachers have been on strike for higher pay. There are reports that policemen have refused to sing the national anthem.

In an environment of hyperinflation it becomes increasingly difficult for government and employers to keep pace with inflation in the salaries they pay. It also erodes the ability of the government to hand out patronage, which Mugabe needs to do to retain loyalty.

Mugabe has infuriated much of his own ruling Zanu (PF) party by seeking to stay on two years beyond his current term. He is likely to receive a mandate to extend his term at a party conference next month, but that does not mean there is not deep dissatisfaction in his party and the military over the move.

The end of Mugabe's rule is edging ever closer and the transition to a new political future will be a dangerous time for the country, and potentially its neighbours. SA's quiet diplomacy policy may have failed with Mugabe, but SA needs to start positioning itself to play a meaningful role during the transition.

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  • 3 weeks later...

La suite du feuilleton. Bob soutient son frère Jacques en montrant que le pire c'est bien lui, Bob, et non pas le nôtre, de préz. (Admirez les raisons qu'il donne pour tenter de prolonger son mandat sans élection, dommage que Jacquot n'y ait pas pensé, à celle là)

Mugabe to Stand in 2008 Election

Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)


March 11, 2007

Posted to the web March 11, 2007

By Foster Dongozi


THERE was mounting evidence this week that President Robert Mugabe has decided the 2008 presidential election will go ahead -- with him as the sole Zanu PF candidate.

Insiders said after consultations with party heavyweights he decided that his party would not unanimously endorse his plan to prolong his term to 2010 by instituting a "harmonisation" of the 2008 presidential and the 2010 parliamentary elections.

Mugabe proposed the plan, ostensibly to save the hard-pressed taxpayer money in a country where inflation is now hovering nearer to 2 000% than the official figure of 1 729%.

Most of the influential party leaders found his reasons for the harmonisation implausible. Like the opposition parties, they too saw in it a ruse to prolong his term by two years. Mugabe had said he would retire in 2008, and let someone else lead the party into the 2010 parliamentary election. But he appeared to change his mind ahead of the December Zanu PF conference.

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  • 4 weeks later...


In Zimbabwe, Mugabe critics face beatings

By Michael Wines

Published: April 7, 2007

HARARE: Keith Charumbira had just stepped off a minivan taxi in southwest Harare three weeks ago, fresh from a Friday evening gathering of civic advocates in Zimbabwe's capital city, when he saw the knot of policemen walking toward him. It was too late to flee.

"They started asking questions," he said. " 'Why are you active in an opposition party that is against the needs of the government? Don't you know you are part of a leadership that is leading to violence?' " The officers rifled his pockets, he said, and took his cash, amounting to about $60. Then, for the next 20 minutes, they beat him.

"They used batons," he said. "My head, my chest, on my legs. I had a head injury." When the officers tried to tie him up with his own shirt, Charumbira said, he managed to slip out and run away, fleeing first to a relative's home, then to a Harare hospital. He spent six days there recovering.

There is nothing subtle about the reaction of President Robert Mugabe's government to the latest surge of political unrest in Zimbabwe. By the scores — by the hundreds, some opposition figures say — people critical of Mugabe's rule are being cornered on sidewalks, hauled to jails or simply abducted from their homes in early morning raids, and then savagely beaten.

The main faction of the leading opposition group, the Movement for Democratic Change, says that at least 500 of its members have been attacked in the last month. The numbers of attacks on civic advocates and other opposition figures is less clear but appears substantial.

Some of those attacked are left with fractured skulls or broken limbs. A few have been shot. At least one has been killed: a week ago, a 65-year-old former cameraman for the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation was found bludgeoned to death in a field 50 miles from his home in Glenview, a south Harare slum that is a locus of antigovernment sentiment.

[On Friday, a police spokesman in Harare said a murder investigation had been opened in the case.]

The cameraman, Edward Chikombo, was rumored to have sold to foreign broadcasters videotape of a March 11 police assault on antigovernment protesters that sent 50 activists to Harare hospitals. He was abducted from his home on March 29 by a group of armed men driving a 4x4 vehicle, according to the Media Institute of Southern Africa, a regional journalist-rights organization.

That March 11 assault, which seriously injured leaders of the Movement for Democratic Change and other top civic figures, drew worldwide condemnation. Mugabe's government appears to have responded with a crackdown that strikes some here as an act of paranoia, if not desperation.

Mugabe was widely quoted last month as saying that "the police have a right to bash" protesters who resist them, and added that the main leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, deserved the beating he got on March 11 — leaving him hospitalized with a head wound and possible skull fracture.

An international furor erupted this week after The Herald, a government-controlled newspaper that frequently speaks for officials in power, suggested that one British diplomat that it accused of aiding opposition figures might return to London "in a body bag, like some of her colleagues from Iraq and Afghanistan."

"This is not a regime that is ensconced in the affections of the people," Iden Wetherell, an editor of the weekly Zimbabwe Independent, said in his central offices this week. "There's a real fear of popular mobilization. Look at the pattern of beating people up, of declaring Harare a zone where no demonstrations can be held, of breaking up news conferences. It's clearly an attempt to prevent the leadership of the opposition from communicating with its members."

Civic advocates, opposition figures and human-rights advocates call this a low-intensity war on Mugabe's critics that represents a new chapter in the government's years-long effort to stifle dissent.

"These abductions cannot happen without the knowledge of senior military chiefs, senior police chiefs and senior intelligence chiefs," Selvan Chetty, the deputy director of the South Africa-based Solidarity Peace Trust, a human-rights group, said in an interview. "They have to be sanctioned somewhere."

Precisely who is behind the attacks is often unclear. Some, like Charumbira, have been attacked by uniformed police officers, and frequently have been imprisoned as well. At least 25 victims of attacks have faced charges in Harare courts in the last week alone, Tafadzwa Mugabe, a lawyer for Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said in an interview. "Most of these guys are picked up at midnight or the early hours of the morning," he said. "They're terribly beaten, and then they're put in jail."

But many more beatings and abductions, like that of the cameraman Chikombo, are anonymous, carried out by men in plainclothes driving unmarked vehicles.

Nelson Chamisa, a member of Zimbabwe's Parliament and a top official of the main faction of the Movement for Democratic Change, was walking into Harare's airport terminal on a Sunday morning two weeks ago, bound for a meeting with European Union officials, when he found himself surrounded by eight men in civilian clothes.

"Before I realized what was happening, one of them produced a metal object and hit me in the face," he said. "I fell to the ground. I was hit with metal objects in my face, my neck, my head, my back. All I can remember is that there was this guy with his foot on my neck. I was bleeding profusely."

Chamisa said he was assaulted for at least five minutes as the airport's police officers stood idly by. The attackers took his carry-on bag, containing a laptop, documents and some $2,000. When a crowd gathered, the men raced to two new Nissan sedans without license plates, fired shots in the air to scatter onlookers, and sped away.

The police have yet to interview him or begin an inquiry into the attack, Chamisa said. Nor has the government said anything about the incident, which sent him to a hospital with severe head injuries.

Some opposition figures and civic advocates say they believe that the government's tactics will backfire, drawing more international condemnation and leaching away the support from neighboring governments that is seen as critical to Mugabe's government. And in fact, Mugabe's threat to "bash" dissidents drew a mild rebuke this week from South Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, who told The Financial Times that African leaders were dismayed by photographs of bloodied and beaten protesters.

For the present, however, the effect of the attacks has been to terrorize the government's critics, some of whom have gone into hiding, changed their mobile telephone numbers or simply fallen silent.

"The regime does not any longer believe that there is a civil society that should participate in politics," said Tungamirai Madzokere, a ward leader for the Combined Harare Residents Association in Glenview. "They're now after everyone."

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  • 4 weeks later...

L'Eglise catholique a pris position. Je dis bravo.

Mugabe warns bishops of 'danger'

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has told Roman Catholic bishops they are on a "dangerous path" if they become too political, state media reports.

He said they would be treated as politicians and not spiritual leaders.

He was responding to an open letter published over Easter, in which they warned of a mass uprising unless free elections are held.

"Many people in Zimbabwe are angry, and their anger is now erupting into open revolt," the letter said.

Mr Mugabe, a Catholic, said he would have told the bishops they were talking "nonsense" if he had seen the letter in church.

"Once [the bishops] turn political, we regard them as no longer spiritual and our relations with them would be conducted as if we are dealing with political entities and this is quite a dangerous path they have chosen for themselves," he is reported as saying in The Herald newspaper.

'Biblical oppression'

In March, a prayer meeting attended by opposition leaders and activists was broken up by police, leaving two people dead.

Scores of activists, including Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai, were arrested and assaulted in police custody.

Mr Mugabe said they had "deserved" their beatings for ignoring police warnings that the meeting was illegal.

The bishops' letter compared the suffering in Zimbabwe to the biblical oppression of the Jewish slaves under the pharaohs in Egypt.

"In order to avoid further bloodshed and avert a mass uprising, the nation needs a new people-driven constitution that will guide a democratic leadership chosen in free and fair elections," it said.

Earlier this year, the outspoken Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, called for Zimbabweans to take to the streets in order to tell Mr Mugabe to step down.

He said he was willing to stand in front of "blazing guns" if necessary.

More Zimbabweans are Catholics than belong to any other religious group.

Zimbabwe has the world's highest annual rate of inflation - 2,200% - and only one person in five is in full-time work.

Mr Mugabe blames his problems on a Western plot to remove him from power.

Story from BBC NEWS:


Published: 2007/05/04 11:00:27 GMT

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  • 1 month later...

Il y est arrivé le Mugabe : inflation à un million et demi !

US predicts regime change in Zimbabwe as hyperinflation destroys the economy

· Rate to reach 1.5m% by year end, says ambassador

· Money becomes worthless as people turn to bartering

Andrew Meldrum in Johannesburg

Friday June 22, 2007

The Guardian

Zimbabwe's inflation will rocket to 1.5m% before the end of the year, the US ambassador to Harare predicted yesterday, forecasting massive disruption and instability that will drive President Robert Mugabe from office.

In a telephone interview with the Guardian, Christopher Dell said prices were going up twice a day, sapping popular confidence in a government which is now "committing regime change on itself".

"I believe inflation will hit 1.5m% by the end of 2007, if not before," Mr Dell said. "I know that sounds stratospheric but, looking at the way things are going, I believe it is a modest forecast."

Zimbabwe's official inflation is 4,500% but independent economists and retailers say it is really above 11,000% and picking up speed. The black market rate for the Zimbabwean dollar has slumped, from Z$160,000 to the pound last week to more than Z$400,000. It collapsed further yesterday, tumbling to more than Z$300,000 to the dollar. The official rate is fixed at just Z$250. Mr Mugabe insists that the Zimbabwe currency must not be devalued.

"Prices are going up twice a day, in some cases doubling several times a week," said Mr Dell, who is approaching the end of his posting to Zimbabwe. "It destabilises everything. People have completely lost faith in the currency and that means they have lost faith in the government that issues it.

"By carrying out disastrous economic policies, the Mugabe government is committing regime change upon itself," he said. "Things have reached a critical point. I believe the excitement will come in a matter of months, if not weeks. The Mugabe government is reaching end game, it is running out of options."

Hyperinflation is spreading poverty, as even basic goods become unaffordable. Supermarket trollies lie idle as few can afford to buy more than a handful of goods. Government regulations only permit the withdrawals from banks of Z$1.5m a day, which is not enough to buy a week's worth of groceries.

Golfers pay for drinks before they set off on their round, because the price will have gone up by the time they have finished the 18th hole. One Zimbabwean was recently told by a pension company that it would no longer send him statements as his fund was worth less than the price of a stamp.

"I can barely cope with inflation in the thousands, but millions? We will die," said Iddah Mandaza, a Harare factory worker, who added that some workers were now saving on transport costs by "going to their jobs on Monday and sleeping at the workplace until Friday. They all share their meals. That's what they do to get by."

Many Zimbabweans are resorting to bartering. "I traded some soap for two buckets of maize meal [Zimbabwe's staple food]. It was far much better than trying to buy it in the shops," said worker Richard Mukondo. "People in the rural areas are even worse off. You can see they are hungry and their clothes are in tatters. They trade in whatever they can produce: tomatoes, onions, chickens and eggs."

Tony Hawkins, professor of economics at the University of Zimbabwe, said that no one held cash in the country any more. "People spend it as soon as they get it. Goods hold their value, not money. The government has run out of solutions. At this rate perhaps inflation could hit 1m%, but one gets a sense that things will crack before then."

Enterprising Zimbabweans abroad have set up internet trading schemes, such as Mukuru.com, in which Zimbabweans overseas pay for goods with foreign currency and then vouchers for fuel, food and medicines are sent to recipients in Zimbabwe via email or on their mobile phones.

This business has thrived because more than three million Zimbabweans - a quarter of the people - now live abroad. Half of Zimbabwe's families depend on remittances from overseas to pay basic monthly bills, according to a recent survey by the University of Zimbabwe.

Mr Dell, 51, who has had a tumultuous three years as ambassador to Zimbabwe, said that Mr Mugabe faced further trouble from his army, which used to be considered solidly loyal to the president. Last week six men, including an army private and a retired senior officer, were charged in court with plotting against the president. He said the allegations of the coup plot show divisions within Mr Mugabe's ruling party, Zanu-PF.

"I don't believe it was a real coup plot. I think it shows one side of Zanu-PF plotting against the other. The bitter factional infighting is now dragging in the military. That cannot be good news for Mugabe," said Mr Dell. South African president Thabo Mbeki's efforts to mediate between Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change are "the last great hope for a peaceful resolution to Zimbabwe's crisis", said Mr Dell.

The dash from cash

It is a shopper's nightmare and an economist's dream, often producing surreal economic behaviour. When prices rise every day, people ditch cash in favour of assets (precious metals, property or even pianos in Weimar Germany) that retain value. Foreign currency may become de facto tender, as in Russia (dollars) and the former Yugoslavia (marks) in the 1990s. Workers spend salaries as soon as they are paid. Savings fall as bank deposits and pensions become worthless; bartering takes over and the state prints more zeroes on money. Germany had a 100 trillion Reichsmark note in 1923 while a postwar Hungarian note had 20 noughts. Hyperinflation has made victims of politicians too, from interwar Germany to Boris Yeltsin's Russia and most recentlyArgentina, which got through four presidents in four months in 2001-02.


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Pour l'aventurier aux couilles en béton, il y a un coup à jouer dans ce genre de situations en proposant un solide mécanisme d'échange sur le marché et dans lequel on peut avoir confiance (que ce soit par internet, par téléphone portable, etc…).

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Je proposais ces deux canaux, mais l'inventivité humaine étant relativement large, on doit pouvoir en trouver d'autres adaptables au pays.

Mais il y a bien des portables à profusion au Soudan …

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Y a-t-il seulement l'Internet ou des téléphones portables au Zimbabwe ?

Je n'y suis jamais allé mais je me demande si tu n'en a pas une image faussée. La tragédie spécifique du Zimbabwe, c'est que c'était un pays intermédiaire, beaucoup plus développé que ses voisins comme par exemple le Mozambique et le Malawi.

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Zimbabwe: le vice-président met en garde les "saboteurs de l'économie"

HARARE - Le vice-président du Zimbabwe Joseph Msika s'en est pris lundi aux "saboteurs de l'économie" à "la cupidité effrénée", en apportant un soutien déterminé au projet du président Mugabe de nationaliser les sociétés qui ne respectent pas la directive de contrôle des prix.

"Nous ne permettrons pas aux traîtres, aux renégats et aux obsédés du gain de venir ici déranger notre bon système de vie", a déclaré le vice-président Joseph Msika, visant les investisseurs étrangers et les hommes d'affaires locaux, aux funérailles d'un ancien collaborateur du président Mugabe à Harare.

"Si vous continuez ce que vous faites, nous soutiendrons à 100% le président Mugabe pour extirper la pourriture que vous essayez d'introduire dans notre pays", a-t-il dit.

Le 27 juin, M. Mugabe avait menacé de confisquer et nationaliser les sociétés étrangères, dont celles du secteur minier, qu'il accuse d'être responsables de l'envolée des prix en accroissant leurs profits, et de chercher par là à inciter la population à se révolter contre l'Etat.

"Pour l'instant, nous lui disons: faisons-le," a ajouté M. Msika.

M. Msika a accusé les industriels et les détaillants d'être de mèche avec l'ancien Premier ministre britannique Tony Blair, souvent accusé par M. Mugabe de fomenter des plans pour recoloniser le Zimbabwe.

L'ancienne colonie britannique traverse depuis sept ans une grave crise économique, caractérisée par une inflation à quatre chiffres, une pénurie de produits de base tels que l'huile de cuisine et le sucre, et un chômage massif.

Les hausses des prix quasi-quotidiennes ont incité le gouvernement à imposer, la semaine dernière, un plafonnement des prix de tous les biens et services.

M. Msika a exhorté les sociétés locales à "ne pas exploiter" la population "en augmentant les prix trois fois par jour".

"Je vous dis que nous ne permettrons pas cela", a-t-il insisté.

Dimanche, l'hebdomadaire Sunday Mail, proche du pouvoir, a annoncé l'arrestation du sénateur Siriro Majuru, membre du parti au pouvoir et par ailleurs commerçant, accusé d'avoir stocké et revendu à des prix trop élevés certains produits de base. Vingt autres entrepreneurs ont été arrêtés pour le même motif, selon cette source.

(©AFP / 02 juillet 2007 15h07)

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Oui. Mais mêmes si ces fermiers blancs employaient des travailleurs noirs, cela ne légitime pas pour autant leur droit de propriété. Enfin, je ne connais pas le détail de cette appropriation du temps de la colonisation.

Ah, il faut quand même ajouter que bon nombre de travailleurs noirs ont aussi été agressés en même temps que les blancs, et qu'il me semble que beaucoup ont été expulsés du Zimbabwé.

Et le pire est que le Zimbabwe est passé du statut de producteur agricole leader en Afrique à celui de membre du club des crève-la-dalle.

Il dit quoi le Monde Diplo de cette réforme agraire du Staline local? Ah oui, encore de la désinformation colonialiste et raciste.

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Pour l'aventurier aux couilles en béton, il y a un coup à jouer dans ce genre de situations en proposant un solide mécanisme d'échange sur le marché et dans lequel on peut avoir confiance (que ce soit par internet, par téléphone portable, etc…).

Mouais, pour l'aventurier il y a surtout un coup a jouer en déposant Mugabe. Ca ne doit pas etre si cher que ca.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Mugabe's price cuts bring cheap TVs today, new crisis tomorrow

Police and Zanu-PF lead bargain hunt after officials order shops to act

Chris McGreal in Harare

Monday July 16, 2007

Zimbabweans are shopping like there's no tomorrow. With police patrolling the aisles of Harare's electrical shops to enforce massive government-ordered price cuts, the widescreen TVs were the first things to go, for as little as £20. Across the country, shoes, clothes, toiletries and different kinds of food were all swept from the shelves as a nation with the world's fastest shrinking economy gorged itself on one last spending spree.

Car dealers said officials were trying to force them to sell vehicles at the official exchange rate, effectively meaning that a car costing £15,000 could be had for £30 by changing money on the blackmarket. The owners of several dealerships have been arrested.

President Robert Mugabe's order that all shop prices be cut by at least half, and sometimes several times more, has forced stores to open to hordes of customers waving thick blocks of near worthless money given new value by the price cuts. The police and groups of ruling party supporters could be seen leading the charge for a bargain.

Mr Mugabe has accused business interests of fuelling inflation, running at about 20,000%, to bring down his government. A hotline is in place to report "overcharging", and retailers who flinch at slashing prices are being dragged before the courts. Several thousand have been arrested for "profiteering" over the past week, including the chief executives of the biggest retailers in the country, some of them foreign-owned.

Economists say the price cuts will only deepen the national crisis, leaving many shops bare because they will not be able to afford to restock while official retail prices remain lower than the cost of buying wholesale or importing. Mr Mugabe has dismissed such warnings as "bookish economics".

Some businesses fear that Operation Reduce Prices is intended to pin the blame on the private sector for Zimbabwe's economic problems as a step towards seizing control of many companies in the way that white-owned farms were expropriated at the beginning of the decade, sparking the crisis.

Parliament is expected to pass legislation in the coming weeks that will effectively give a controlling stake in all publicly traded companies to ruling party loyalists and others chosen by the government.

The impact of the price cuts was felt almost immediately as fuel virtually disappeared from sale after garages were forced to sell petrol for 23p a litre, less than they paid the state-owned supplier.

The police and army broke the locks on petrol pumps at some garages and tanks ran dry amid panic buying. Now petrol is available only on the blackmarket, at more than seven times the official price and three times what garages had been charging. By Saturday, most minibus taxis had gone from the roads because drivers could not find petrol. Crowds of workers were left on kerbs for hours trying to get to or from their jobs.

The riot police had to be called out to the South African-owned Makro super store in Harare after thousands of people stormed the shop after it was forced to slash prices. The scenes were replicated in stores throughout Harare. The Bata shoe chain's shops were stripped bare in two days by people snapping up pairs for as little as 20p.

Food is still available, although bread, sugar, cornmeal and other staples are hard to find, and meat has all but disappeared because livestock owners say it is now uneconomic to slaughter their animals. Much of the meat that is available is goat slaughtered in backyards and sold in informal markets.

The rest of the food supply - already severely undermined by drought and lack of production on land seized from white farmers - is also under threat after Mr Mugabe threatened to take over manufacturers if they shut down their plants on the grounds that they were uneconomic. "Factories must produce. If they don't, we will take you over … We will seize the factories," he said.

Last week, the government said it was reviving the State Trading Corporation, shut down two decades ago because of mismanagement, to take over businesses that collapse or are seized. But many factories are unable to produce goods because electricity and water are unavailable for much of the day.

The price cuts were ordered by the joint operation command, a committee of army, intelligence and police officers closely tied to the ruling Zanu-PF and chaired by Mr Mugabe.

The government despatched security personnel and party cadres, including its notorious "green bomber" thugs, to enforce the price cuts, in some cases by beating up shop managers who did not implement them quickly enough.

"Zanu-PF is at heart a military organisation and that's exactly how it's gone about this, as a military operation," said David Coltart, an opposition MP. "The benefits will only last a few weeks at most and then we're going to have to live with the consequences. They believe they can dictate price cuts and print money with gay abandon but ultimately it will rebound. Not ultimately, very soon."

Business leaders say one reason for the price cuts is to quell unrest in the security forces, which saw a dramatic increase in inflation last month wipe out a 600% pay rise in May. They also fear the campaign is a step towards doing to private companies what was done to white farmers. Mr Mugabe is pressing a law through parliament in the coming weeks that will require all businesses to be at least 51% Zimbabwean owned and managed.

Zanu-PF has dressed up the move as an affirmative action measure to help previously disadvantaged black people. But firms will not be able to choose their new partners. They will be selected by the government. The measure will be paid for by taxing the same businesses forced to hand over control.

Mr Coltart said the move was essentially a means for the ruling party and military to take over the economy. "We can't expect a rational policy to emerge. You will see the military in charge of manufacturing. We've already got the military in charge of railways and grain marketing and the electoral process. There are military men now involved in all sorts of other businesses. The militarisation of the state will continue," he said.

In a letter to the cabinet the governor of Zimbabwe's central bank, Gideon Gono - until recently considered one of Mr Mugabe's closest allies - said that price controls must be scrapped and foreign investments and property rights protected to put the country on the path to economic recovery.

He also said that the seizure of white-owned farms had been counterproductive because it cost Zimbabwe foreign currency earnings by losing tobacco exports and scaring off investors.

Many of Mr Mugabe's opponents agree with Mr Gono but they are quietly heartened by the latest upheaval. They are fond of quoting the US ambassador to Harare, Christopher Dell, who recently said that Zanu-PF was committing regime change on itself with its disastrous economic policies and that Mr Mugabe would be gone by the end of the year.


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