President Robert Mugabe Tuesday appealed to Zimbabwe's “true and genuine” friends to invest in the country, while praising the military for loyalty and castigating business people he accused of hiking prices in the aim of overthrowing him.
Speaking on the country's Defense Forces Day holiday, Mr. Mugabe said Zimbabwe has abundant resources and asserted that investors are not only welcome but that the national defense forces are there to guarantee their security. He accused government opponents of boosting prices and working with Western countries that have imposed travel and financial sanctions on government and ruling party officials.
He said his government has stemmed price rises. "Thankfully, the government moved to stem price increases meant to cause unbearable suffering for our people and push them into lawlessness and disorderly conduct," Mugabe said.
Mr. Mugabe praised the military for remaining loyal in difficult times, though conceding that his government has failed to complete projects such as barrack-building.
Commander in Chief Robert Mugabe was decked in medals and beribboned with a green and gold sash as he inspected troops from an open military vehicle.
Thousands of people turned up for the military pomp and a free soccer match.
Cape Town-based analyst Glen Mpani told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mr. Mugabe's policies in fact are not very investor-friendly.
Meanwhile, heavily armed riot police and soldiers have been beating up residents of Harare's Kuwadzana section for several weeks for reasons that remain unclear.
A resident of the southwestern Harare suburb who asked not to be named said police and soldiers beat up residents Tuesday morning at a Kuwadzana shopping center.
This followed reports that security forces seized goods from vendors in Kuwadzana and nearby Dzivarasekwa, and force-marched them and residents of the two areas to the national Heroes Acre memorial where President Mugabe was speaking.
Mr. Mugabe delivered a speech marking Heroes Day in which he said government price controls would be extended through the end of the year.
Officials of the Combined Harare Residents Association and the Movement for Democratic Change said the incursions started a few weeks ago after Kuwadzana residents waved fish at Mr. Mugabe's motorcade as it passed through.
Kuwadzana Member of Parliament Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the opposition faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai, told reporter Patience Rusere that he intends to raise the matter in parliament as appeals to the police have fallen on deaf ears.