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Mugabe Accuses Britain of Sponsoring 'Terrorist Activities' - 2001-11-18

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has accused Britain and other unnamed governments of sponsoring what he calls "terrorist activities." He says they are working in Zimbabwe with the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change.

Mr. Mugabe made the charges while delivering a graveside speech at the burial Sunday of Cain Nkala, a leader of guerilla war veterans, who was kidnapped by unknown assailants and later found dead near his home in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city.

In a 45 minute speech, Mr. Mugabe accused the Movement for Democratic Change of killing Mr. Nkala.

Mr. Mugabe said: "Let it be heard in the tall towers of London and elsewhere that we cherish our freedom." During the past year he has publicly accused Britain and the United States of trying to overthrow his government.

During his address to a crowd of about two-thousand, the 77-year-old president accused the MDC of terrorism at least 15 times. He said white commercial farmers are part of the conspiracy. He said Britain and other countries were also corrupting Zimbabwe's youth with "drink, drugs, and trinkets."

He threatened extremely tough action against the MDC. Some of those at the funeral service carried banners saying "kill the terrorists."

As Mr. Mugabe was speaking, heavily armed police surrounded the headquarters of the MDC in downtown Harare. Party officials in the building said the police claimed they were providing protection from a possible attack by pro-government militants.

Friday, a mob of government supporters threw firebombs and destroyed the MDC offices in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city. Mobs of militants later roamed through the center of the city, attacking and clubbing passers-by, mostly whites.

More than 15 MDC officials, including a member of parliament, have been detained following the death of Cain Nkala.

Party president Morgan Tsvangirai says the government is using the death of Mr. Nkala as an excuse to ban or clamp down on the party before presidential elections next year, in which Mr. Tsvangirai is challenging Mr. Mugabe.