President &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/accidents/2001/03/07/2889.html ' target=_blank>Robert Mugabe yesterday defended the razing of shanty towns and the arrest of thousands of street traders, which has left at least 200,000 people homeless, as a "vigorous clean-up campaign to restore sanity" to Zimbabwe's cities.
In an address to parliament, Mr Mugabe said the evictions were part of an effort to curb crime. The ruling party accuses black-market traders of &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/columnists/2002/04/18/27774.html ' target=_blank>sabotaging the economy.
"The current chaotic state of affairs where [small businesses] operated ... in unregulated and crime-ridden areas could not have been tolerated for much longer," the president said at the state opening of parliament, reports the Guardian Unlimited.
According to CNN News, a loose coalition of civic and opposition groups called for the general strike Thursday and Friday to protest the campaign, which the United Nations says left 200,000 people homeless.
While early morning traffic appeared lighter than usual Thursday, most firms in Harare's industrial sites and central business districts were open and employees were at work, Reuters reported.
Economists said it would be difficult to make a general strike effective because only about 800,000 of Zimbabwe's 12 million people have jobs in the formal sector, The Associated Press said.