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Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 23:24 GMT
Zimbabwe accuses US of invasion threat
Zanu-PF supporters
Reports say Mugabe's supporters seized food aid
Zimbabwe has accused the United States of planning to invade the country under the pretext of guaranteeing the distribution of food aid.

The accusation - carried by a state-owned newspaper - comes after remarks in a newspaper interview in which US State Department official Mark Bellamy was quoted as saying America might have to take "very intrusive interventionist measures" to ensure food aid was delivered.


The United States is planning to invade Zimbabwe within the next six months on the pretext of bringing aid relief

Herald newspaper
Opposition groups and aid agencies have accused Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe of only allowing the foreign aid to reach his own supporters.

Nearly seven million Zimbabweans face starvation after a drop in maize production, which critics have blamed on Mr Mugabe's expropriation of white-owned farms.

The Zimbabwean Government has said the decline in agricultural output is due to a lengthy drought.

Food 'seized'

The government-controlled Herald newspaper ran a front page story on Wednesday accusing America of plotting against Zimbabwe.

Zimbabweans queue to buy bread
Millions of Zimbabweans face starvation

"The United States is planning to invade Zimbabwe within the next six months on the pretext of bringing aid relief to people who were allegedly being denied food on political grounds," it said.

It follows reports that supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party seized emergency food aid ahead of a crucial by-election last month and were only distributing supplies to people with party membership cards.

The UN's World Food Programme indefinitely suspended its food aid deliveries in a Harare district as a result.

Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge told state television that reports that the aid was blocked were "a fandango of a fairy tale of lies" concocted by opponents of the government.

'Mad talk'

An unnamed Zimbabwe Government spokesman was quoted as telling the Herald that any US plans to invade were "mad talk".

Arrested white farmers
Critics blame Mugabe's land policies for food shortages

"This little fellow [Mark Bellamy] was either blank, mad or both, and if he was speaking for his government the same will apply to it," he was quoted as saying.

US officials denied America had any intention of invading Zimbabwe, but said food aid must not be used as a political tool.

"No US Government official has made such a threat. We believe that only the people of Zimbabwe can solve their nation's problems," the US embassy in Harare said in a statement.

Zimbabwe, like southern Africa as a whole, is in the throes of a severe food shortage.

Currently some four and a half million Zimbabweans need food aid, a number which is expected to soar to 6.7 million by next March.


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06 Sep 02 | Africa
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