Accessibility links

Mugabe Rejects Call for Dialogue; Looks to China for Help


President Robert Mugabe Monday rejected calls to hold talks with leaders of the opposition, and, in a televised address to the nation, angrily lashed out against the critics of his demolition campaign. President Mugabe also said China is prepared to help him pull Zimbabwe out of its worsening economic crisis.

In his speech to commemorate the heroes of Zimbabwe's liberation war, President Mugabe rejected call for talks with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

"I am aware there are shrill calls from many quarters including those we expect to know better,

for so called talks with the Movement for Democratic Change. Some of these calls are motivated

by the MDC leadership which wrongly thinks it can compel us to talk to it," said Mr. Mugabe.

The opposition MDC said the rejection is a clear slap at South Africa, which has set political reforms as a condition for extending Zimbabwe a billion-dollar loan.

Mr. Mugabe did not specifically mention a bailout loan from South Africa. Instead, he said Zimbabwe is looking for economic help to China, and its "Look East" policy is working.

"I am happy to announce that our Look East policies are beginning to assume a concrete form

and yield quantifiable economic results for our nation," he said. "My recent state visit to China was most

beneficial and is set to transform our economy in a fundamental way."

Late last month, Mr. Mugabe and Chinese leader Hu Jintao signed agreements on economic and technical cooperation, but neither side revealed details of the accords.

Mr. Mugabe also called the critics of his campaign of razing whole neighborhoods of shacks and market stalls as "hypocrites."

Zimbabwe is going through the gravest economic crisis since its independence. Fuel has been largely unavailable since March, electricity, which is mostly imported, is in short supply and Zimbabwe's manufacturing and mining sectors are in a nosedive. The economy struggles with triple-digit inflation, an unemployment rate above 70 percent and about $4.5 billion foreign debt.

Corn, Zimbabwe's staple food, is often not available, and much of what is available, has to be imported from South Africa.

South African media reported over the weekend the government was proposing to lend Zimbabwe about $500 million U.S. in order to prevent Harare's expulsion from the International Monetary Fund and to pay for essential imports. But the reports have not been confirmed by the South African government.

Opposition spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi, said any rescue package for Zimbabwe must include emergency food aid. He said many people in southern Zimbabwe were on the verge of starvation.

XS
SM
MD
LG