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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 April 2007, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
Mugabe blames greed for collapse
President Mugabe during the independence celebrations (screen grab)
Mr Mugabe said price hikes were unjustified
Zimbabwe's leader has blamed "unbridled greed" in the business sector and "saboteurs" for the country's economic woes during independence celebrations.

President Robert Mugabe, who has been heavily criticised for his brutal crackdown of the opposition, also defended his government's stance.

"Misguided opposition elements [have tried] to create a state of anarchy through an orgy of violence," he said.

Zimbabwe has the world's highest annual rate of inflation and 80% unemployment.

'No justification'

"The economy has continued to be buffeted by seemingly unending waves of price hikes, largely prompted by both unbridled greed amongst some of our business persons and by the strategy of our saboteurs," the 83-year-old president told a packed stadium in the capital, Harare.

We will never hesitate to deal firmly with those elements who are bent on fomenting anarchy and criminal activities
President Robert Mugabe

"This pace of increases in prices of basic commodities have largely been without justification."

Economists estimate that the country's inflation rate now tops 2,000% and only one person in five is in full-time work.

Mr Mugabe was giving his address at the same stadium where Zimbabwe's independence celebrations were held in 1980.

He reminded his audience of the day 27 years ago when British colonial rule ended with the lowering of the flag by Prince Charles.

Crowds listening to Mr Mugabe's speech
Crowds turned out see celebratory marches and speeches

"Pulling down colonialism, British colonialism, which had settled here, oppressed us for nearly a century," he said.

He also repeated accusations that some members of the opposition were seeking anarchy.

"We will never hesitate to deal firmly with those elements who are bent on fomenting anarchy and criminal activities," he said.

Last month, a prayer meeting in the capital, Harare, attended by opposition leaders and activists was broken up by police, leaving two people dead.

Scores of activists, including Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai, were arrested and assaulted in police custody.


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