Aid to Zimbabwe sparks political fire

Zimbabwe

TEXT OF STORY

Lisa Napoli: Grocery and convenience store shelves in Zimbabwe remain empty three weeks into what the President there is calling "Operation Reduced Prices." Robert Mugabe's campaign is forcing businesses to slash prices by about 50 percent in the wake of rampant inflation. This week the U.S. pledged additional food aid but today Zimbabwe officials are criticizing the offer. From Johannesburg, Gretchen Wilson reports.


Gretchen Wilson: Zimbabwe calls the U.S. offer of food assistance a political gimmick.

It follows comments by the Bush Administration on Tuesday, calling Zimbabwe's price controls "reckless" and "irresponsible."

The U.S. also said it's ready to engage a new Zimbabwean government. That fuels resentment among Zimbabwe's officials.

Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu accused the U.S. of meddling in its affairs and supporting opposition leaders. And he says the U.S. food aid is part of that support, a trick to turn the people of the country against its government.

But gimmick or no gimmick, Zimbabwe's still going to take the extra 50,000 tons of corn and other food staples.

The World Food Program estimates a third of the country, or 4 million people, will need donated food before next year's harvest in March.

In Johannesburg, I'm Gretchen Wilson for Marketplace.

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