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Opposition Leader Says Zimbabwe's Economic Meltdown May Bring Regime Change


Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said that the collapsing economy in Zimbabwe would force Mr. Mugabe to allow free and fair elections. From London, Tendai Maphosa has this report.

In remarks while in London, Zimbabwe's main opposition party leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, described the situation in Zimbabwe as "life threatening."

"People have no jobs and people have no health and education delivery is almost collapsing," he said. "We are determined to continue with the resistance against the regime until our goal of democratic change is achieved."

Zimbabwe's inflation, which is now above 4,000 percent, is the highest in the world.

Tsvangirai spoke after making his first public appearance outside Zimbabwe with rival Movement for Democratic Change faction leader Arthur Mutambara, at a news conference here Friday.

The opposition leaders are on a Western European tour to build international support and show that the opposition is united after months of infighting.

Tsvangirai's comments followed similar remarks from the outgoing United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell, who says the country's disastrous economic situation could lead to the fall of the government.

Dell is quoted in London's Guardian newspaper this week as saying Zimbabwe's inflation will reach more than a million percent by the end of the year.

The resultant disruption and instability, he added, could drive President Robert Mugabe from power. He told the Guardian that the government was "committing regime change on itself."

The diplomat was speaking against the backdrop of the latest collapse of the Zimbabwe dollar against the major currencies.

In the previous week, the dollar has crashed by close to a hundred percent on the parallel market. He said prices were going up twice every day. Mr. Mugabe blames the economic meltdown on sanctions imposed by the West as punishment for his sometimes-violent land reform program. However, Dell, in past statements, has blamed the situation on what he called the voodoo economics of the government.

University of Zimbabwe economist Tony Hawkins says things could still get much worse in the country before they get better.

"I don't understand what people mean when they talk about economies collapsing, if you look at African economies as diverse as Rwanda, Ghana, Uganda, Mozambique, Angola, DRC, these economies have been through usually associated with war but not always very tough times and economies never collapse as such," he said. "It's very difficult to tell when economic decline will translate into political change or regime change Mr. Dell may well be right but I don't think anyone can predict that in advance."

Negotiators for Zimbabwe's ruling party and the main opposition in Harare have agreed on an agenda to enable crucial talks to continue in neighboring South Africa. The talks are aimed at helping Zimbabwe emerge from its political and economic crisis.