Mugabe urges Zimbabweans to help him have his sanctions removed

HARARE – Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe made a strong call for national unity and urged Zimbabweans to help push for the lifting of sanctions imposed by the West.

In an interview with Zimbabwe’s state broadcaster ahead of Saturday’s 29th independence anniversary, Mugabe said Zimbabweans should help the government put pressure on the Western powers and work together, rather than against each other.

"The sanctions are unwarranted and it is important that we sing the same song," Mugabe was quoted as saying in the interview which was published in the state-owned Herald newspaper. The television interview will be broadcast on Friday night.

Zimbabwe’s economy is in ruins with unemployment at around 90 percent and millions in need of food aid. After years of hyperinflation, prices are falling after the government allowed the use of hard currency and abandoned the Zimbabwe dollar.

The unity government formed by Mugabe and his rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is seeking to rebuild the country’s shattered economy after years of hyperinflation and decline blamed on Mugabe’s mismanagement and authoritarian rule.

The United States and the European Union have said they are waiting to see whether Mugabe is serious about sharing power with Tsvangirai in the unity government that took office in February before lifting sanctions and unblocking aid.

Mugabe said it would take time for sanctions to be lifted, even with the support of Tsvangirai and his opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

The veteran leader said Zimbabweans must work to ensure the country does not remain divided between supporters of different parties, but work together to ensure economic and social stability, boost investment to the country and control the country’s resources.

"Reality must dawn on you that the people of Zimbabwe are divided between your party and others. Instead of quarrelling and unleashing violence on each other, isn’t it better that you get together and start a chapter of working together?"