Saturday, February 17, 2007

Guardian: "Army and police desert beleaguered Mugabe"

The last time we met Mugabe on this blog, the Ayatollah had just praised him as "one of the African prominent and valiant figure [sic]."
Widespread desertions from Zimbabwe's army and police are weakening Robert Mugabe's security forces as large strikes loom because of the country's deepening economic collapse.

With inflation now at a global record of 1,600 per cent, The Observer can reveal that soldiers and police officers who cannot feed their families are leaving their posts in large numbers.

Flyers of army officers who have gone missing are posted in the hallways of the King George VI headquarters in Harare and the 1 Commando quarters near the airport, according to journalists. [...]

A breakdown in municipal water treatment is blamed for an outbreak of cholera in Harare's Mabvuku township. Life expectancy has plummeted to 36, the world's lowest, the economy has shrunk by 50 per cent since 2000 and inflation hit its record last week. The International Monetary Fund predicts it will soar to above 4,000 per cent this year.

Yet Mugabe's supporters - now trying to raise more than £1m to stage lavish celebrations to mark his 83rd birthday on Wednesday - appear unperturbed. The funds and advertisements praising him will come from the same state-owned utilities that are failing to provide clean water, electricity and transport.

'Mugabe is acting as if nothing is amiss and everyone should be happy to celebrate his birthday. He is not picking up the signs of growing unrest,' said Saidi.

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