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Zimbabwe's Internal Enemies Should 'Repent,' says Mugabe - 2003-08-11

President Robert Mugabe said Monday that what he called Zimbabwe's internal enemies should "repent" and work in unity with the government. Mr. Mugabe made a low-key speech on Heroes Day, when those who died in Zimbabwe's anti-colonial struggle are remembered.

This year, the annual Heroes and Armed Forces holidays came at the end of a weekend, which would have given Zimbabweans a four-day break. Most Zimbabweans would normally have left the cities and gone to their rural homes for the holiday.

This year, most stayed in the towns. Many people said they could not lay their hands on enough bank notes late last week to pay for transport home on the few buses still on the road. Many government and privately-owned buses are not running because of the shortage of fuel.

The high cost of black market fuel and the shortage of bank notes combined to stop most people from traveling to their rural homes. This holiday, the last before the annual summer planting season, is when urban dwellers usually take vital agricultural supplies home.

Seed companies said last week they have almost no stocks for this year's season, and fertilizer is largely unavailable, even on the black market.

President Mugabe told a quiet crowd of the elite and armed forces at Heroes' Acre, on the outskirts of Harare, that drought and international sanctions caused Zimbabwe's economic plight.

He said Zimbabweans who represent foreign interests are enemies. He said they should repent and work for the country's development.

Most political analysts say Mr. Mugabe was referring to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, which he regularly accuses of being controlled by foreign interests.

Europe and the United States imposed travel sanctions on Zimbabwe's political elite, and froze their assets in western banks, following last year's disputed presidential election. Western countries say Mr. Mugabe's re-election was based on widespread fraud.

Many people in Zimbabwe and experts elsewhere blame the country's problems partly on the ongoing drought, but also on the Mugabe government's policies, including its agricultural reform program and its limits on the political opposition.