Secret maize imports from SA

HARARE - Up to 800,000 tons of maize, most of it from South Africa, have been secretly imported into Zimbabwe over the past few months as the government stocks up on food for distribution ahead of 2008 elections.

Official sources said the imports would be used to make up the shortfall in this year’s harvest and ensure western donors are kept out of food distribution efforts.

This would enable President Robert Mugabe’s government to apply food as a key weapon to win the two-thirds majority it badly needs in parliament in order to handpick a successor when Mugabe resigns or dies in office. The changes allowing Parliament to handpick Mugabe’s successor were made through Constitution Amendment No. 18.

The Zimbabwe government stands accused of misleading the world about its anticipated harvest this season – claiming 2.4 million tons of maize, exceeding the country’s annual requirement of about 1.8 million tons. – Chief reporter

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