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Zimbabwe Government Outraged at Colin Powell Comments - 2003-06-26

The Zimbabwe government has expressed outrage at Secretary of State Colin Powell's criticism of President Robert Mugabe's administration in a piece he wrote and which appeared earlier this week in The New York Times newspaper.

Information minister, Jonathan Moyo, accused Secretary Powell of lying about Zimbabwe's economic and political situation.

Mr. Moyo's views were carried on the front page of the state controlled Herald newspaper two days after Mr. Powell's article appeared in New York Times.

Mr. Powell wrote that, under President Mugabe's rule, Zimbabwe has become a country on the verge of collapse. Millions of people, he said, are desperately hungry because of the land-reform program instituted by the Mugabe government.

Mr. Powell also said the Zimbabwe government was a threat to regional stability, and he urged neighboring countries to pressure Mr. Mugabe to engage in dialogue with political opponents before a new round of elections.

In his response, Mr. Moyo said the article proved correct Americans, who he said, view Mr. Powell to be a disgraceful Uncle Tom who always sang his master's voice to the detriment of social justice and the rights of people of color.

Rather than criticize President Mugabe's land-reform program, the information minister said Mr. Powell should be urging the government to acquire more land from white farmers to give to peasants.

Western diplomats in Harare said the timing of Mr. Powell's article, before President Bush's planned trip to Africa next month, signals that the Zimbabwe crisis is likely to top the agenda during the president's visit.