'Plotters' want to oust Mugabe

Zimbabwe's state media has accused the head of a high-profile humanitarian mission to the strife-torn country of plotting to overthrow the government.

The report which was released yesterday came after former United Nations chief Kofi Annan, ex-US president Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela's wife, Graca Machel among other members of a group known as the "Elders" were refused entry into the country.

"The so-called 'Elders' are a creature of pro-Labor British corporate interests. There is nothing elderly about them," Zimbabwe's secretary for information George Charamba said in the Herald newspaper.

The group said it had planned the visit to Zimbabwe to assess the humanitarian situation in the country.

President Robert Mugabe's government rebuffed the visit, accusing them of trying to support the country's opposition in power-sharing talks.

"The 'Elders' should not pretend to have Zimbabweans at heart when, in fact, they were fronting a regime change agenda being pushed by Britain and the US," the paper said.

The "Elders" stayed in South Africa, and met with Zimbabwean in exiles, with Carter expressing grave concern for the humanitarian situation, saying there were indications that it was "much worse than we ever could have imagined."

The country is preparing for the resumption of the deadlocked power-sharing talks between Mugabe and opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai this week.

Both political rivals signed a deal on September 15 to form a unity government and end months of political unrest. The deal reached a deadlock over the sharing of ministers.