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Mugabe urges end to violence as Zimbabwe turns 30

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by MziziMkavu, Apr 18, 2010.

  1. MziziMkavu

    MziziMkavu JF-Expert Member

    Apr 18, 2010
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    [​IMG]Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe attends the swearing-in ceremony of his Mozambican counterpart Armando Guebuza for a second term in office in the capital Maputo, January 14, 2010. REUTERS/Grant Lee Neuenburg

    HARARE - President Robert Mugabe on Sunday urged Zimbabweans to end political violence and focus on rebuilding a devastated economy that critics say is a victim of his three decades in power.Addressing a rally to mark 30 years of independence from Britain, Mugabe said Zimbabwe would pursue its controversial land seizure policy and plans to transfer control of foreign firms to locals as part of a black empowerment drive.
    In a fairly mild speech by his strident standards, Mugabe, now 86, denounced Britain, the United States and other Western countries for imposing sanctions on Zimbabwean leaders over charges of vote rigging and rights abuses. But there was none of the usual name-calling in what has become a traditional attack on what he sees as imperialist forces.
    In a conciliatory message to his domestic political opponents, Mugabe urged Zimbabweans to stop inter-party violence which local rights groups invariably blame on militant supporters of the president's ZANU-PF party bent on destroying the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
    "Your leadership in the inclusive government urges you to desist from any acts of violence that will cause harm to others and become a blight on our society," he said at a rally attended by about 30,000 people.
    Mugabe -- who spearheaded a guerrilla war against white minority rule in the then Rhodesia -- denies accusations that he has hung onto power over the last 10 years through violence and vote rigging.
    On Sunday, the veteran leader called on people to support a constitutional reform program intended to lead to free and fair elections by 2013. But critics say his ZANU-PF is stalling the process to buy time to reorganize the party.
    Mugabe was last year forced into a power-sharing government with Tsvangirai after a political crisis sparked by the disputed general election in 2008.
    Although ZANU-PF and Tsvangirai's MDC continue to bicker over the pace of reforms and appointments of senior state officials, Mugabe said on Sunday the power-sharing deal was working and the country was focused on the economy.
    "Many of the key provisions of the global political agreement which is the maker of our inclusive government, have been and continue to be in the process of being fulfilled."
    Despite criticism that the move will damage the economy and discourage foreign investment, Mugabe said he was pressing on with plans to transfer 51 percent of shareholdings in foreign companies over the next five years to black Zimbabweans after a decade of seizing and transferring white-owned farms to blacks.
    "The economic empowerment policies are chiefly designed to redress the historic imbalances in the ownership of the economy," he said.
    Tsvangirai and members of his MDC executive -- who have criticized the new policy -- attended the rally and his MDC supporters in the crowd cheered when Mugabe acknowledged the presence of his arch rival.
    The aging president, who says he will run again for office if his party nominates him, said although the national economy was in a bad shape, Zimbabweans should celebrate their freedom and remain vigilant against incorrigible racism.
    "No challenge or hardship can overcome our sense of freedom, independence and sovereignty," he said.