Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe said Thursday that there will be no turning back on policy of black ownership of Zimbabwe’s businesses. He made the statement at his ZANU-PF party’s annual conference. Zimbabwe's leader told thousands of delegates that the country achieved a military victory over minority white rule in 1980, has taken back land from white farmers since 2000, and now will give a majority stake in all businesses to blacks.
Mugabe looked physically fit and sounded mentally alert as he rallied his party faithful in a two-hour speech in Bulawayo, a city where most people do not support the ZANU-PF party.
He denounced this year's NATO campaign in Libya and said that country's former leader Moammar Gadhafi was naïve to trust the West.
Mugabe said that Zimbabwe wants foreign investment or partners. About 4,000 delegates sang and applauded the president when he told them that Zimbabwe’s natural resources should be used to ensure the prosperity of local, not foreign, children.
"Sure we want partners, sure, but let the majority of the companies be our companies," he said.
Mugabe singled out mining companies for majority ownership in what is known in Zimbabwe as "indigenization."
“We insist that our people get not less than 51 percent in each and every mining company in the country. The law is there, the Indigenization and Empowerment Act. It is there now and it was passed," he said.
Several political and financial analysts say most foreign mining companies so far have not been forced to part with more than 10 percent of their shares to local communities or company workers.
Mugabe also said elections would be held next year in Zimbabwe.
Multi-party committees trying to reform legislation and draft a new constitution say they doubt that a vote can be held before 2013, when Mugabe will be 89 years old.
The party’s 10 provincial executives have endorsed him to lead the ZANU-PF party in the next elections.
Analysts say new elections would likely end the inclusive government with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change and the small MDC lead by Welshman Ncube. The unity government emerged after the two MDC’s defeated the ZANU-PF party in a disputed and violent 2008 vote.
Mugabe told party delegates to prepare for a vote. “[The] time has come now for us to prepare for elections. The time has come for us to straighten ourselves to go to elections and let people choose a government of their own liking," he said.
President Mugabe also called on the ZANU-PF party to renounce violence. Most human rights organizations say that Mugabe’s supporters murdered hundreds of MDC supporters during the 2008 elections.
This week's annual party conference ends on Saturday.