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Zimbabwe magistrates plead starvation in face of call not to take bribes

[JURIST] Magistrates in Zimbabwe [JURIST news archive] told court officials Monday that they are starving and unable to afford three meals a day, as the country's inflation soars and more than 75% of the population lives below the poverty line. The statement by magistrate Enias Magateto was made in response to Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa's urging that magistrates refuse to accept bribes. The country's food shortages is due in part to government seizures of white-owned land [BBC report], Deputy Agriculture Minister Sylvester Nguni has said. The land has been given to people who know little about farming, and Nguni admitted that many of the new owners are doing "nothing" on the farmland [Herald report]. In October, courts just outside Zimbabwe's capital city of Harare were forced to close because of intermittent water shortages and because the prison service had no gasoline to drive defendants to court. The economic and political situation in Zimbabwe has been deteriorating in recent months and the government of President Robert Mugabe has drawn sharp international criticism for harsh reforms and repression, with the government of Australia pressing most recently for him to be charged by the International Criminal Court [JURIST report] for abusing his own people. BBC News has more. Zim Observer has local coverage.

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