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Bush Rebrands Mugabe as “Tyrant," Harare Recriminates

As a United Nations special envoy investigated alleged human rights violations in Zimbabwe’s six-week program of demolition of unauthorized homes and informal business premises, U.S. President George Bush told the Times of London in an interview that President Mugabe is a “tyrant” who has “ruined” Zimbabwe.

Speaking in the run-up to the Group of Eight summit in Scotland, Mr. Bush said U.S. development assistance would not be used to pressure countries to adopt a particular position on Zimbabwe. But, he said, “we ought to use the fact that we’re working in partnership with countries as an opportunity to convince them to convince Mugabe to make different decisions.” He added: “I don’t think we ought to… allow his tyranny to cause others to suffer on the continent of Africa.”

His comments came as no surprise to officials in Harare. Responding, Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga said the U.S. president is not in a position to judge Mr. Mugabe. Mr. Matonga said Zimbabwe’s president has demonstrated greater transparency than Mr. Bush by admitting a U.N. special envoy when international controversy flared over Zimbabwe’s urban clean-up drive.

Mr. Matonga expanded on this and defended the demolitions in an interview with reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyele of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe.