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Mugabe Issues Veiled Criticism of Botswana Before Regional Summit

Addressing his fellow Zimbabweans on Heroes Day, President Robert Mugabe issued a thinly veiled attack Monday on the government of neighboring Botswana, saying that some member nations of the Southern African Development Community were making noise but did lacked proper understanding of Zimbabwe’s crisis.

The comments came three days before SADC heads of state were to meet Thursday in Lesotho. The regional association was expected to endorse mediation by former president Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania between Harare and London.

The Zimbabwean president also took his customary swipes at British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George Bush for their alleged “undeserved ostracism and unjustified smear campaigns” against his government.

Looking homeward, Mr. Mugabe warned founding president Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change against staging protests. Mr. Mugabe said the opposition should instead cooperate in solving the economic crisis.

He also hit at corruption by officials he denounced as economic “saboteurs.”

Ruling ZANU-PF supporters held placards saying “no to money laundering,” referring to the central bank’s ongoing and highly unpopular monetary overhaul under which all currency in circulation must be turned in by August 21 or expire worthless. The central bank has been accused of poor planning, and public outrage has been stirred by the police seizure of large amounts of currency at border crossings and roadblocks.

Members of the political opposition boycotted the Heroes Day ceremony, accusing the president of turning the national holiday to ruling party political uses.

Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with senior researcher Sydney Sasamvu in the Pretoria, South Africa, offices of the International Crisis Group, about the implications of Mr. Mugabe's comments ahead of the SADC summit.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...