Great Leap Backwards


CRACK DOWN: A whip-wielding guard controls a crowd outside a grocery store in Harare last month

Is Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe trying to set an African record for mass arrests? It certainly looks that way.

Two weeks ago, police launched a violent crackdown on illegal traders in Zimbabwe's biggest cities — the government blames them for fueling inflation, now at 129%. Operation Restore Order has so far netted more than 15,000 people for hoarding maize and dealing in foreign currency. Many Zimbabweans believe there are darker reasons for the sweeps, which have included incidents of police brutality and destruction of property. Most of those targeted live in urban areas that overwhelmingly backed the...

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