Unrest in Zimbabwe over high inflation


Zimbabwe's war veterans, angry over the steep price of goods went on a rampage in Victoria Falls this week, in the latest blow to tourism in the politically volatile nation. About a dozen veterans of Zimbabwe's war of independence - the group which spearheaded the invasions of thousands of white-owned farms since early last year - yesterday stormed supermarkets in the resort town in response to high inflation, which they blamed on cross-border traders from Zambia.

The acting mayor of Victoria Falls, Mr Thembinkosi Sibindi, a ZANU-PF member, said the protesters also included supporters of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party.

The pro-government veterans and their supporters were reportedly angry over escalating prices of goods, blaming the inflation on Zambian traders capitalising on the weakening of the Zimbabwe dollar to buy goods for resale in their country.

Victoria Falls, the world's largest sheet of falling water, is Zimbabwe's prime attraction, but tourism has collapsed since the start of politically related violence in the run-up to legislative elections last June. Tourism arrivals fell to an unprecedented low, dropping by 60 per cent.

Meanwhile, 21 Zimbabwean white farmers, granted bail on Monday, were released just before midday yesterday. A farming official said they had spent two nights in "unlawful custody" as their release was delayed by bureaucratic problems. They were released after their arrest two weeks ago in a politically charged case which sparked looting across a key northern farming region. The court ordered the farmers to surrender their passports and other travel documents and ordered them not to go near their farming region for fear they would interfere with state witnesses, some of whom are farm labourers.

The farmers' arrest outside Chinhoyi on August 6th and 7th sparked a rampage by mobs through farmland in Mashonaland West province. More than 100 people, mostly farmworkers, have appeared before the courts for theft.