- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 1, 2003

Disgusted with Mugabe

The war of words between the United States and Zimbabwe intensified this week, as the U.S. Embassy in the southern African nation denounced President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party for racial slurs against Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

Mr. Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) called Mr. Powell, the first black secretary of state, an “Uncle Tom who always sang to his master’s voice” in an article last week in the state-run newspaper, the Herald.

The newspaper labeled Mr. Powell an “ordinary liar” and an “international outlaw,” after Mr. Powell earlier last week called Mr. Mugabe a tyrant whose land-reform programs enrich his cronies and do nothing for the “landless peasants.” Mr. Mugabe last year encouraged black mobs to force white farmers off their land.

“Nobody in ZANU-PF will ever join Powell and his kind in selling out,” Jonathan Moyo, the state information minister, told the Herald.

The embassy, in a statement Monday, expressed its “profound disgust at the use of racial slurs” against Mr. Powell.

In a June 24 article in the New York Times, Mr. Powell wrote, “Millions of people are desperately hungry because the country’s once-thriving agricultural sector collapsed last year after Mugabe confiscated commercial farms, supposedly for the benefit of poor blacks.

“But his cynical ‘land reform’ program has chiefly benefited idle party hacks and stalwarts, not landless peasants.”

Mr. Powell blamed Mr. Mugabe’s “violent misrule” and his “reckless governmental mismanagement and unchecked corruption” for the destruction of Zimbabwe’s economy. He compared Morgan Tsvangirai, the chief opposition leader accused of treason, to Aung San Suu Kyi, the democratic activist repeatedly repressed by Burma’s military government.

He promised U.S. aid would resume only if Mr. Mugabe is replaced by a transitional government that would schedule democratic elections.

Mr. Mugabe and “his cohorts may cry, ‘blackmail.’ We should ignore them,” Mr. Powell wrote.

He called on South Africa and other nations in the region to do more to pressure Mr. Mugabe “to respect the rule of law and enter into a dialogue with the political opposition.”

Otherwise, Mr. Powell said, Mr. Mugabe “and his cronies will drag Zimbabwe down until there is nothing left to ruin.”

President Bush is expected to discuss Zimbabwe on his African visit next week to Senegal, Botswana, South Africa, Uganda and Nigeria.

Think tank aid

The Center for Strategic and International Studies is working with Turkish business leaders to promote U.S.-Turkish trade and repair the fallout from Turkey’s opposition to the war in Iraq.

The respected Washington think tank established the U.S.-Turkey Contact Group with the Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Maritime Trade and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey.

Turkish Ambassador Faruk Logolu and Eric Edelman, the new U.S. ambassador to Turkey, attended the signing ceremony last week at CSIS, where the two groups inaugurated the program.

The contact group is co-chaired by Richard Burt, a former assistant secretary of state for European affairs and a CSIS senior adviser, and Rifat Hisarciklioglu, the union president.

“The initiative is an important step in the effort to restore closer U.S.-Turkish relations after the recent disagreement over the use of Turkish territory in the war against Iraq,” said Bulent Aliriza, director of CSIS’s Turkey Project.

The contact group will work to improve bilateral trade, increase U.S.-Turkish cooperation in the reconstruction of Iraq and bolster Turkey’s efforts to join the European Union.

Kazakh visit

Kazakhstan’s foreign minister yesterday met Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, the Kazakh Embassy said.

Foreign Minister Kassymzhomart Tokaev discussed Kazakhstan’s efforts to help in the reconstruction of Iraq and to fight international terrorism. They also talked about bilateral political and trade issues, including Kazakhstan’s vast energy resources, embassy spokesman Roman Y. Vassilenko said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected].

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