Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Mugabe blames West for Zim's troubles

President Robert Mugabe opened a new legislative year Tuesday with a speech to Parliament blaming economic problems on the U.S., Britain and other Western critics of his human rights record.

Zimbabwe is in a state of economic collapse, suffering from the world's highest inflation rate _ more than 1,000 percent _ and shortages of all basic goods. A quarter of its 16 million people has emigrated since 2000 and millions more are dependent on aid....

Mugabe said a national regulating authority would be established in the coming year to monitor electronic communications. Critics say the move will give the secret police extraordinary powers to intercept mail, e-mail, telephone or cell phone communications.

Mugabe said recent rains have raised hope for an "economic turnaround" and a revival of agriculture under new, black holders of land grants. A recent government report said only 40 percent had occupied their farms or small-scale plots, leaving millions of acres derelict and unproductive......

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