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At Funeral, Zimbabwe President Mugabe Again Alleges Western Meddling

Officials of both formations of the Movement for Democratic Change said they declined to take part in the Heroes Acre burial because they considered it a ZANU-PF political event rather than a national ceremony

Speaking Thursday at the burial of a senior intelligence aid at National Heroes Acre in Harare, the Zimbabwean capital, President Robert Mugabe again criticized the West for what he described as meddling in the country's internal affairs.

Mr. Mugabe was eulogizing Mennard Muzariri, deputy director general of the Central Intelligence Organization, 56, who died Monday. The politburo of Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party had immediately designated Muzariri a national hero for his contribution to the liberation struggle of the 1970s and to national security in the years since.

As has become his custom on such occasions, President Mugabe launched a diatribe on the West for its alleged interference in Zimbabwe's business. His rambling speech also denounced homosexuality which he said was contrary to Zimbabwean values even if it was legal in Britain - always a favorite target for the president in such addresses.

"We get alarmed when these countries have the audacity to schedule us as an item for discussion in their own parliament," he said. "Does Britain still regard us as a colony in spite of the fact that on the 17th of April (1980), just before midnight, they sent Prince Charles here to lower their flag, and we hoisted our own?"

Mr. Mugabe called for unity and dedication by ZANU-PF members, deploring those who gave only lip-service, "sloganeering, but after that they would be selling out."

Officials of the two formations of the co-governing Movement for Democratic Change said they declined to take part in the Heroes Acre ceremonies because in their view they represented a ZANU-PF political demonstration rather than a national commemoration.

Nhlanhla Dube, spokesman for the MDC grouping led by Welshman Ncube, said that the presence at Heroes Acre of Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, until late last year the president of the MDC wing, proved he had shifted loyalties to ZANU-PF.

VOA could not immediately reach Mutambara for his response to the jibe.

Spokeswoman Thabitha Khumalo of the MDC formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said President Mugabe should concentrate on stopping the rising tide of political violence in Zimbabwe instead of slamming the West.

Political analyst Charles Mangongera criticized Mr. Mugabe for politicizing a funeral and, as he put it, veering off course to settle scores with perceived opponents.