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Crackdown In Zimbabwe

Some ten-thousand people have been arrested in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. Those arrested are mostly poor people who earn their living as street vendors. According to news reports, the vendors include teachers and other professionals unable to find work. The Zimbabwe government, ruled by President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party, also seized the vendors' wares and money and is threatening to demolish the shacks where the vendors live.

Parliamentary elections were held in Zimbabwe in March. The election process was neither free nor fair. Zimbabwe's independent press was muzzled. Freedom of assembly was constrained. There are credible allegations that fraud occurred on election day. And millions of Zimbabweans, forced to emigrate by the country's economic collapse, were not allowed to vote at all.

The government is wrecking Zimbabwe's economy. Unemployment is estimated to be eighty percent. Fuel is in short supply. Government services are collapsing. Government policies deny the private sector access to the foreign currency that it needs to import goods needed for production. This year's food harvest was bad and food prices are extremely high. In some parts of Zimbabwe, people are already going hungry. The economy has shrunk by up to forty percent in the last five years, which has forced millions to flee to Botswana, South Africa, and Europe. A country that once exported food now must import it.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice lists Zimbabwe as one of the world's "outposts of tyranny":

"America stands with oppressed people on every Cuba, and Burma, and North Korea, Iran, and Belarus, and Zimbabwe.... We cannot rest until every person living in a fear society has finally won their freedom."

Secretary of State Rice says, "Zimbabwe’s leaders have a responsibility to address the political and economic problems that have wrecked what only a few years ago was one of Africa’s success stories. By restoring democratic institutions and respecting the wishes of its people," she says, "Zimbabwe can retake its place as an honorable member of the world community."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.