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US slams Mugabe regime's greed

world Updated: Dec 14, 2008 13:44 IST

AFP
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United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee on Sunday slammed Robert Mugabe's for squandering the country's resources while millions are gripped in dire poverty amid a cholera outbreak.

McGee wrote in South Africa's Sunday Times newspaper that Zimbabwe's government had failed to meet its most basic obligation and care for its people while the international community propped up the nation with aid.

"What is the Mugabe regime doing? It is buying hundreds of cars so that every minister and governor can have multiple vehicles. It is buying plasma televisions for judges.

"Instead of spending scarce resources on water purification chemicals that might stop the cholera epidemic, they are manipulating currency to make a personal profit," he wrote.

Almost 750 people have died from a cholera epidemic which is the latest crisis to befall the southern African nation, with galloping inflation last estimated at 231 million percent in July.

It is expected some five million will need food aid in the coming months.

International calls have grown for Mugabe to leave power after a months-long political stalemate following March elections, and the failure of rival political parties to reach consensus on a unity government.

According to McGee, the United States provides nearly 70 percent of all food aid distributed in Zimbabwe, and donated more than 218-million dollars of humanitarian aid in the past year.

The international community was being forced to lead through Mugabe's "criminal negligence", he said.

"The Mugabe regime should open its books and tell the world how much it is spending on the people of Zimbabwe and how much is being spent on luxury vehicles," he added.