Crisis Leaves Zimbabweans Hungry, Beaten

Electoral officials count ballots in Domboshawa, near the Zimbabwean capital of Harare Saturday, April 19, 2008. Officials began recounting votes for a couple dozen legislative seats, an exercise that could overturn the opposition's landmark victory.
AP Photo
This story was written by CBS News' Sarah Carter, reporting from Cape Town, South Africa.
The opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change says Zimbabwe is a war zone. The MDC claims 10 of its supporters have been killed by President Robert Mugabe's henchmen, more than 500 attacked, 400 arrested and more than 3,000 families displaced.

Several MDC supporters in hiding described to CBS News seeing camps set up by military officers and members of youth militias. The claims are confirmed by a report released on Saturday by Human Rights Watch, which said "torture camps" had been set up in rural areas.

Three weeks after the March 29 election, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has not released the results of the presidential race. The MDC has lost repeated appeals to the High Court to force the commission to announce the results. Instead, the commission has begun recounting votes in 23 districts, where Mugabe's ZANU PF party claims there were counting irregularities.

Government soldiers went into the electoral centre last week and removed the ballot boxes. No independent observers were allowed to remain with the boxes or given any information about a possible recount. There has been no further information on the location or security of the ballot boxes since.

Help From A Neighbor:

Across the border in South Africa, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party has decided to circumvent President Mbeki and deal directly with the players in the Zimbabwe crisis. The move came after Mbeki said there was no crisis in Zimbabwe, following a meeting eight days ago with his long-time ally Mugabe.

Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said his party had decided to dump Mbeki as chief mediator in the crisis. Tsvangirai has asked the Southern African Development Community to recall Mbeki as the organization's negotiator.

(AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)
Last week the ANC took the unusual step of criticizing the country's president, saying in a statement that Mbeki, seen at left, needed "to observe a neutral position in this matter."

Tsvangirai, who left Zimbabwe 10 days after the election, says it's too dangerous for him to return to Zimbabwe. He has been traveling from his new base in Johannesburg garnering support from the continent's leaders. Monday he met in Nigeria with President Umaru Yar'Adua and former President Olusegun Obasanjo before flying to Accra, Ghana to attend the twelfth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Humanitarian Appeal:

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon planned to discuss the Zimbabwe crisis at the conference. Tsvangirai met Ban Tuesday and pressed him to issue a firm statement demanding the release of the election results.

While the political situation is volatile, the humanitarian crisis is reaching dire levels.

(AP/Bram Lammers, Daily Times)
Activists claim food is being denied to opposition supporters. Prior to last month's election, more than 3 million people in Zimbabwe were being fed by the World Food Program, according to MDC Secretary-General Tendayi Biti, seen at left. With government soldiers now handing out much of the food aid, basic food supplies have become scarce and unaffordable.

In a bid to gain favor Mugabe printed trillions of Zimbabwean dollars to fund what's reported to be a 700 percent pay-rise for civil servants - this, in a country with a 100,000 percent inflation rate that economists project could grow to five-times that by May.

What little money the Zimbabwean government has cobbled together seems to be going, not to food aid, but to arms.

Deadly Cargo:

The International Transport Worker's Federation (ITF) said Monday it was organizing unions across Africa to prevent the unloading of a Chinese ship carrying weapons destined for Zimbabwe.

The ship left the South African port of Durban on Friday after the country's high court ruled it could be offloaded in Durban, but barred its cargo from being transported to the boarder with Zimbabwe.

A South African newspaper published a list of the ship's inventory, which includes 3 million rounds of AK47 ammunition, 1,500 rocket propelled grenades and more than 3,000 mortar rounds. It's reported the ship is now heading towards Luanda, Angola where it will send its contents by land to the Zimbabwean Ministry of Defense.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the Bush administration was intervening with governments in the region to prevent the ship's cargo from reaching Zimbabwe.

Jendayi Frazer, the top American diplomat for Africa, was to meet leaders in southern Africa this week to voice U.S. concerns over the deadly payload.

U.S. intelligence agencies were tracking the vessel, according to the AP report, and American diplomats were under instructions to press officials in South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia and Angola not to let it dock.
By Sarah Carter
By Sarah Carter