West seeks to overthrow govt – ZANU PF

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s ruling party has accused an international think-tank of encouraging a military coup against President Robert Mugabe, and vowed to crush any effort to topple the government, state media said on Thursday.

ZANU-PF information chief Nathan Shamuyarira sai

d the International Crisis Group (ICG) — which last week issued a report saying Zimbabwe was fast becoming a failed state — was a front for Mugabe’s western critics including Britain and the United States.

“Having failed completely and repeatedly to topple the strong government of President Mugabe either by the ballot box at elections that are held regularly, or by acts of sabotaging the national economy, they are now resorting to the last card, a military coup,” Shamuyarira told the official Herald newspaper.

The Brussels-based ICG, which says it is an independent non-governmental organisation, denied the allegation.

“Clearly as bad as this government is, we’ve never called for its violent overthrow. The text of the recent report makes that very clear,” Andrew Stroehlein, the ICG’s media director said by telephone.

The ICG report said Mugabe’s government was “increasingly desperate and dangerous” with no clear plan for resolving the southern African country’s deepening economic crisis.

It also forecast greater insecurity and violence in the run-up to elections in 2008 when Mugabe’s current six-year presidential term ends, and said Mugabe himself was increasingly reliant on the armed forces to maintain his grip on power.

Main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has accused Mugabe of neglecting an economic crisis that has seen inflation above 1,000 percent, soaring unemployment and regular shortages of food, fuel and power.

Mugabe denies plunging the once prosperous nation into crisis and instead accuses his domestic and Western opponents of sabotage in retaliation for his policy of seizing white-owned commercial farms for blacks.

Both Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the main labour group Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) have threatened to launch mass protests and the government has promised a tough response.

“The MDC and its supporters will be trashed, humiliated and split even further when the ZCTU will be forced by the workers to go on its own way,” warned Shamuyarira.

He said former colonial power Britain and the United States considered Mugabe’s government their “biggest enemy in Africa” and would likely step up efforts to remove it following what he called “monumental failures” in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories.

“These wounded men may unleash violence on a large scale on the peaceful and peace-loving Zimbabweans,” he added. — Reuter