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World News and Trends Zimbabwe a crisis torn country

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World News and Trends Zimbabwe a crisis torn country

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The country's infrastructure is fraying badly, with schools and hospitals struggling to survive. More than half the work force is unemployed, and one third of the army is helping the Congo's president, Laurent Kabila, in an expensive civil war in the Congo. Most blame these misfortunes on the brutal regime of Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe.

As Financial Times reporter Victor Mallet observed: "Millions of Zimbabweans have tired of old-fashioned anti-imperialistic rhetoric and want a change of faces at the top."

The Sunday Telegraph reported: "With the country's economy in tatters, thanks to years of misrule, Mugabe thought he had a guaranteed vote winner when his loyal constitutional panel drew up clause 57, to enshrine land confiscation and demand compensation for white farmers [from] the old colonial power: Britain."

Zimbabwe's government was in shock after citizens found the courage to stand up to the regime by voting no in a recent constitutional referendum. Yet widespread reports persist of the occupation of white-owned farms following that national vote, with some farmers and farm workers attacked and killed.

The Zimbabwe dollar was worth 50 British pence when President Mugabe assumed power. It is now valued at 1.5 pence. And as The Independent on Sunday observed: "Every week 1,200 Zimbabweans die of AIDS and life expectancy since 1980 has fallen from 59 to 42."

A beautiful and formerly prosperous country has been laid waste, and many of British descent are applying for passports at the British High Commission in the nation's capital, Harare, evidently preparing to emigrate.

Yet, in the words of the minister of state in the British Foreign Office: "Zimbabwe could be one of the success stories of Africa: It remains one of the richest countries, with huge mineral and agricultural resources. It has the best-educated population in Africa and a relatively good infrastructure.

"Zimbabwe is too important a country to be allowed to fail. Its people deserve better and its neighbours in Africa deserve better too." (Sources: The Sunday Telegraph, The Independent on Sunday, The Daily Mail, The Financial Times [all London].)