President Robert Mugabe has lashed out at the West, saying if Western countries cannot support Zimbabwe's struggling coalition government, it should "leave us alone." He spoke at the funeral of Vice President Joseph Msika, 85, who served for two decades and died last week. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai also attended the ceremony along with several of his Movement for Democratic Change colleagues.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and other officials in the coalition government joined President Robert Mugabe and tens of thousands of other mourners at Harare's Heroes Acre Cemetery. But Mr. Mugabe was the only one to speak.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited neighboring South Africa last week and called on Pretoria to help Zimbabwe cope with what she called the "negative effects" of Mr. Mugabe's leadership.
Without mentioning Secretary Clinton, Mr. Mugabe says the six-month old inclusive government with Mr. Tsvangirai is working and said it was supported by southern Africans.
"And so we must assert ourselves as the inclusive government. We have tried to open ourselves to you as friends," he said, "And you are not coming as friends you want to come as masters to us, as principals to tell us what to do. We say no, we say no, and these people who lie here say no to colonialism, no to British rule. Heroes Day would have no meaning."
Former South African president Thabo Mbeki mediated Zimbabwe's coalition agreement last year, following disputed elections.
Mr. Mugabe is accused of bringing a once-prosperous nation to ruin during his decades of authoritarian rule. He blames the West for imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe as punishment for seizing white-owned commercial farms to resettle blacks and to loosen his grip on power.
Mr. Mugabe said Vice President Msika had played a key role in this campaign, which he called "resettlement."
"Joe Msika will not die for as long as the land remains securely ours, should it ever slip though our reckless fingers, let him rise to torment us, and this nation, we shall have failed him greatly and I say to him, 'The land Joe, will never go away again, never ever,'" added Mr. Mugabe.
Mr. Tsvangirai and thousands of his Movement for Democratic Change supporters have been assaulted, tortured, and arrested by ZANU-PF militants since the party emerged 10 years ago.