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  Zimbabwe: From Bad to Worse

The International Crisis Group (ICG) today releases a briefing paper on the situation in Zimbabwe, three months after historic elections almost brought down the government.

In the immediate aftermath of the 24-25 June poll, many Zimbabweans were optimistic that a new era of democratisation and economic reform was about to begin, after six months of violence, intimidation, farm invasions, racist political rhetoric, and erosion of the rule of law. Today, those hopes have been largely dashed. The prevailing mood is one of uncertainty, frustration and anger. There is no positive leadership: no one has a sense of where the country is headed except down.

While the new cabinet includes several new, competent ministers in the economic area, there has been no discernible return to the rule of law and good governance. The economy continues to spiral downwards. The Government has announced its intention to compulsorily acquire over three thousand commercial farms, has publicly identified over two thousand of them, and has begun a "fast track" resettlement program that would move settlers on to many hundreds of them before the rainy season begins in November. This is not land reform; it is a politically driven land grab which will devastate Zimbabwe's agriculturally based economy without immediately benefiting those being resettled.

As before, the culprit for Zimbabwe's continuing slide towards the abyss is President Robert Mugabe. He learned nothing positive from the June elections. If anything he has become more autocratic, determined to maintain personal control regardless of the costs to the nation. He ignores constructive advice from within Zimbabwe and from the international community.

In these grim circumstances, it is imperative that the international community and regional neighbours continue to provide wise counsel and bring whatever pressure they can to bear on President Mugabe and his regime, along the lines recommended in ICG's July report on Zimbabwe (reprinted overleaf).


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