President Robert Mugabe has further angered critics of his government with remarks praising Zimbabwe's police for dealing harshly with leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions who tried to stage national protests on September 13, accusing the country's main labor body of attempting to become a law unto itself.
Speaking to Zimbabwean Embassy staff in Cairo, Egypt, on his way home from the United Nations General Assembly, Mr Mugabe said the trade unionists deserved the beatings they received, allegedly at the hands of police. Mr. Mugabe in New York had attributed the abuse of the labor leaders to "overzealous" police officers, whereas in Cairo he appeared to be endorsing and praising the actions of such officers.
Mr. Mugabe said the union in calling protests sought to encourage intervention in the country by U.S. President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. He said the union officials were seeking to bring about regime change in the same way that mass protests brought down Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serbian president.
Mr. Mugabe also criticized journalists who covered the ZCTU demonstations.
ZCTU Deputy Secretary General Japhet Moyo told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mr. Mugabe’s remarks incited police brutality.