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6/27/03 - MUGABE'S DANGEROUS COURSE - 2003-06-27

Robert Mugabe's brutal rule has brought Zimbabwe to the brink of catastrophe. The nation's economy is the worst it's been since Zimbabwe became independent in 1980. Zimbabweans now face a nearly three-hundred percent inflation, serious food and currency shortages, widespread unemployment, and the near collapse of commercial agriculture.

Rather than pursuing dialogue with the political opposition and seeking solutions to Zimbabwe's crisis, the government and its supporters continue to use violence and intimidation against the political opposition, civil society, independent journalists, and members of the judiciary in an effort to maintain uncontested power.

The leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party, Morgan Tsvangirai, has been a prime target. He was arrested June 6th and accused of treason for trying to organize peaceful protests. Mr. Tsvangirai is now free on bail. He says his detention will not deter him from working to reverse the disastrous course set by President Mugabe:

"We cannot fold our hands and say because the government has used brute force therefore we should abandon whatever action we are thinking about. We are even going to be more organized and more forceful until Mugabe and Zanu-PF realize that the solution to this crisis is through negotiations."

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is urging South Africa and other countries in the region to persuade Mr. Mugabe to enter into a dialogue with Mr. Tsvangirai and other political opponents. In a commentary published in the New York Times newspaper, Mr. Powell said that, if left unchecked, "Mugabe and his cronies will drag Zimbabwe down until there is nothing left to ruin -- and Zimbabwe's implosion will continue to threaten the stability and prosperity of the region."