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Zimbabwe's Mugabe Campaigns Against Main Opponent - Economic Crisis

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, campaigning for re-election, told voters in the rural heartland Wednesday that he will address the deepening economic crisis.

Speaking to supporters at the Mutawatawa Business Center in Mashonaland East Province some 150 kilometers from Harare, Mr. Mugabe blamed Western sanctions and some parts of the business community for hyperinflation and other ills.

He repeated the same message to thousands of villagers in Mahusekwa, around 70 kilometers Harare, accusing unnamed business people of economic sabotage.

"They keep raising and raising prices, and we wonder whether they want to raise the prices until the prices reach heaven," Mugabe declared.

"Some are doing it for the elections, saying, 'Let's make life hard for the people so that they cry and blame it all on Mugabe's government,'" the president said.

Mr. Mugabe said his government has bought 500,000 tonnes of maize from Malawi and Zambia. He urged striking teachers to return to classrooms while authorities consider their demands for higher wages and better working condition

The president donated 30 computers to a local school.

Political analysts and economists say the staggering economy is the biggest threat to Mr. Mugabe's bid for re-election. Inflation is more than 100,000 percent and a 10-kilo bag of maize meal, the national staple, now costs Z$100 million, about US$4.

The currency plunged Wednesday to an all-time low of Z$25 million per U.S. dollar.

Political analyst Tapera Kapuya told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the economy is President Mugabe’s Achilles heel.

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