|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
With months to go before the critical presidential elections in Zimbabwe it is essential that the international community uses all its resources to ensure that the election not only takes place but will also be free and fair. The presidential election in March is not just about choosing a new government, it is also about choosing a new society for the people of Zimbabwe, a society based on core democratic principles.The cessation of all acts of violence against farm workers, farmers, the media, the judiciary, opposition parties, church organisations and gay activists.
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This comes a day after the government said that it would only allow civil servants to monitor presidential elections, due early next year.
At the moment, we are just sitting at CID [Criminal Investigation Department]. We don't really understand what is going on
Daily News editor
The Daily News is fiercely critical of the government and in January, its printing press was destroyed by a bomb.
Geoff Nyarota and Wilf Mbanga, a former director of the company which publishes the paper, were picked up from their homes early on Thursday morning by plain clothes police.
A BBC reporter in Harare says that the two men have been charged with violating section 40 of the Zimbabwe Investment Centre Act and will spend Thursday night in police cells.
Police say they gave false information when registering their company, the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe in 1999.
Earlier this week, a government newspaper, The Herald, said that The Daily News might be shut down because its publishers had broken investment and foreign exchange control regulations.
The ANZ has dismissed the allegations as "malicious falsehoods".
Mr Nyarota and three colleagues were arrested in August after publishing a story which alleged that some police officers were involved in the looting of white-owned farms.
On Wednesday, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa was quoted in the Herald as saying that only civil servants would be accredited as election monitors.
In last year's parliamentary elections, foreigners were banned but local civic organisation trained thousands of Zimbabweans.
Mr Chinamasa said that some of these organisations were funded by foreigners and therefore did not have Zimbabwe's interests at heart.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change immediately cried foul, saying this was preparing the ground to rig the elections.
The European Union has threatened to impose sanctions if it is not allowed to monitor the poll.
Mr Mugabe will face his toughest ever challenge in the poll from the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai.
An opinion poll published in the Financial Gazette on Thursday said that 52.9% of decided voters backed Mr Tsvangirai, against 47.1% for Mr Mugabe.
The poll was conducted by Target research agency in August and September in a nationally representative sample of more than 3,000 voters.
However, 20% said that they had not yet made up their minds and would do so on the basis of the economy.
Inflation is currently more than 80% and unemployment of over 60% but Mr Mugabe is hoping that his redistributing of land from whites to poor blacks will swing the vote in his favour.
The organisation said one of its teams had just visited the country and found that more than half a million people were facing acute hunger.
WFP plans to start operations in November, with food aid arriving in December
The World Food Programme made it clear it was responding to a request from the authorities in Harare, and said it would begin distributing food relief next month.
"What we're seeing right now is a developing complex emergency, a variety of serious problems which when added up, gravely threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of people," said Judith Lewis, WFP regional director for eastern and southern Africa.
The WFP said poor rains - preceded by flooding - have contributed to Zimbabwe's severe economic problems.
But it also highlighted the disruption caused to commercial agriculture by the violent occupations of white-owned farms, a development encouraged by President Robert Mugabe's government.
The WFP says rural people in the south, west and extreme north of Zimbabwe have been hardest hit - and that normally they are given surpluses from other parts of the country.
But now the surpluses have dried up, and Zimbabwe lacks the foreign exchange to buy food from outside.
Industry officials said Zimbabwe needed to import at least 600,000 tonnes of maize to meet domestic demand. The government has acknowledged a need to import 100,000 tonnes.
In October, Zimbabwe already faced serious food shortages due to price controls imposed by the government in a bid to control runaway inflation.