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Mugabe: Black takeovers top agenda

Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe claims his party won "a resounding mandate" from voters to complete a sweeping black empowerment programme to take over foreign and white-owned assets.

He said the plan, widely criticised by Western countries, will be "pursued to its successful conclusion."

Outgoing prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, 61, is challenging the results of the July 31 election and alleges widespread vote rigging that gave Mr Mugabe, 89, and his ZANU-PF party a commanding victory.

Addressing military parades on the annual Defence Forces holiday,Mr Mugabe said voters ended an unwieldy coalition with Mr Tsvangirai's opposition that was formed after the last violent and disputed elections in 2008.

He said the vote showed confidence in his party and its drive for "total economic emancipation" for prosperity and jobs. "I extend my hearty congratulations to all of you for showing our foreign detractors our destiny lies in our hands," he said.

A day earlier, in his first public appearance since the election on the Heroes' Day holiday , honouring guerrillas in the war the led to independence in 1980, Mr Mugabe described his rivals as an enemy he disposed of in the election "like garbage." In his latest outburst he called them "some misguided fellow countrymen" who received backing from hostile Western nations and followed a regime-change agenda to oust him.

Mr Tsvangirai's party had called for reforms to the military and police it has blamed for state orchestrated violence in the past.

"What they call security sector reform is when the enemy's aim is to dilute the efficiency of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces," Mr Mugabe said. "We appeal to all Zimbabweans to resist the enemy's strategies and renewed advances by our erstwhile colonisers."

Britain and the United States have questioned whether the results of the July 31 poll represent a free and fair vote.

Mr Mugabe, who for the first time this year inspected the parades from an open military vehicle instead of walking through the ranks, said Britain has opposed black empowerment since 2000 when thousands of white farmers were forced to surrender their land. Critics of the programme say it disrupted Zimbabwe's agriculture-based economy, shut down industries and scared away foreign investment in mining and other businesses where owners were required to yield 51% control to blacks.


From Belfast Telegraph