The Daily News (Harare)

26 March 2003

Zimbabwe: Mugabe Equates Himself to Hitler

PRESIDENT Mugabe stunned the nation last Friday when he equated himself to the German butcher of the Nazi era, Adolf Hitler, saying he was going to ruthlessly clamp down on dissenting voices in the country.

Hitler massacred over six million Jews and other minority groups whom he perceived to be his opponents.

Addressing mourners at the burial of Swithun Mombeshora, the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, at the National Heroes' Acre, Mugabe, who sports a Hitlerite moustache, said: "I remember when in 1976 we met with the British at the Geneva Conference and at that time the British and their friends were focused on Mugabe and Nkomo. "I was the Hitler of that time. I am still a Hitler of their time. If Hitler fought for the justice of mankind, many nations would not have fought against him.

"Hitler in Zimbabwe has one objective - sovereignty for his people, recognition of their independence and their rights to freedom. If they say I am Hitler, let me be Hitler ten-fold and that's what we stand for."

Mugabe made the remarks on the backdrop of unprecedented torture, arrests and assaults allegedly by State security agents countrywide on civilians.

Last week, a man was beaten to death and several others, including opposition Members of Parliament, were beaten up and/or arrested as soldiers, the police and Central Intelligence Organisation agents cracked down on residents they suspected of participating in the two-day mass stayaway.

Richard Boucher, the spokesperson for the State Department of the United States, immediately condemned the retributions.

He said the upsurge in official violence is directly attributable to Mugabe's speech last Friday in which he said he could be a "black Hitler ten-fold" in crushing his opponents. "Since the beginning of this year, government officials and supporters have sharply escalated repression of all forms of dissent," Boucher said.

"This repression has grown increasingly violent. "In the run-up to this week's parliamentary by-elections in two pro-opposition districts, the ruling party has made clear its intent to win at any cost and has used violence and manipulation of food stocks to intimidate voters."

The US government said Harare should immediately cease its campaign of violent repression, and identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of these serious and widespread human rights abuses.

In a statement, Boucher said: "The United States strongly condemns the unprecedented violence carried out by the Zimbabwe government against domestic opponents. "Over the past three days, the government of Zimbabwe has embarked on a massive retribution campaign against opposition officials, supporters, and other critics of the regime.

"This wave of violence and intimidation follows last week's successful and largely peaceful two-day work stoppage organised by the main opposition party, the MDC. "Since then, over 400 opposition supporters have been arrested, beaten, and in some cases tortured by individuals in police and military uniform.

"Over 250 people have required hospitalisation and at least one person has died. "Women have been sexually assaulted by police or military officers."

He said violence directed against opposition parties and their supporters has become a standard pre-election tactic of Mugabe's government over the past three years.

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