Robert Mugabe lashes out at Western countries

HARARE – Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe said on Monday the country's unity government may need to reconsider its relations with Western nations he accused of refusing to support the new administration.

Mugabe formed the government in February with rival Morgan Tsvangirai, now prime minister, but Western countries have continued to withhold funding, saying the veteran leader has not shown commitment to fully implement the unity deal.

The West has maintained travel and financial bans on Mugabe and his allies and refuses to extend financial support to the government until it undertakes political and economic reforms.

Mugabe, 85, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, said although the unity government was the result of efforts by the African Union and the regional Southern African Development Community, the West still refused to support it.

"I say these are not the people to deal with. If they reject us, why should we continue to want their help," Mugabe told thousands of mourners at the burial of deputy president Joseph Msika in Harare.

"So we must assert ourselves as the inclusive government and say we have tried to open ourselves as friends, but you (the West) are not coming as friends, you want to come as masters to us, as principals to tell us what to do."

Mugabe’s position is at odds the drive by his coalition partner Tsvangirai to restore full ties with Western governments that are crucial to providing financial aid for the unity government to fix the country’s battered economy.

Although the government has reported securing about $2 billion in credit lines for the private sector, mostly from Africa, it has failed to attract budgetary support and significant foreign investment. 

Tsvangirai toured Europe and the United States in June, but his efforts to attract Western financial aid for the unity government, which needs $8.3 billion for reconstruction, were met with calls for more reform.

Mugabe accuses the West of imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe as punishment for seizing white-owned commercial farms to resettle blacks and to loosen his grip on power.

The veteran president said on Monday the farms would not be returned to white farmers, adding that foreign aid was not enough to develop the country.

He said former coloniser Britain wanted to maintain influence in the once prosperous southern African nation.

"Let everyone in the inclusive government and in the country generally know that our nation will never prosper through foreign handouts," said Mugabe.

"We are not a poor country, our history would not have been this troubled if we had been a poor country." Reuters