Mugabe in threat to foreign companies

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Zimbabwe’s president has threatened to expel foreign-owned companies over what he says is the West’s interference in the politics of the country he has led since 1980.

In a speech before supporters gathered for the burial of a top military chief in Harare, President Robert Mugabe said he wanted no “ideas from London or Washington”.

He warned the countries that although his government has not “done anything to your companies, time will come when we will say tit for tat”. The West has pushed for democratic reform in Zimbabwe.

Mr Mugabe, who was sworn in on Thursday for another five-year term at the age of 89, said “there will come a time when we lose our patience”.

Mr Mugabe has vowed to press ahead with black ownership of foreign-owned companies.

Mr Mugabe said: “You hit me, I hit you. We have a country to run and we must be left free to run it.”

Britain, the former colonial power, the European Union and the United States have refused to endorse Mr Mugabe’s landslide victory in the July 31 elections, citing evidence of vote rigging.

The Western countries maintain economic restrictions on Mr Mugabe and leaders of his ruling party.

Mr Mugabe insists his party won “a resounding mandate” in the last election and denies allegations of voting fraud. Zimbabwe’s state election panel said Mr Mugabe won the election with 61 per cent of the presidential vote.

“I want to assure you our attitude will not continue to be passive,” Mr Mugabe said yesterday. “We have had enough and enough is enough.”

Since winning another term Mr Mugabe has vowed to push ahead with a black empowerment programme to force foreign and white-owned businesses to cede 51 per cent ownership to black Zimbabweans.

Some economists warn that the programme will trigger another economic downturn, like that Zimbabwe suffered after Mr Mugabe’s government seized white-owned farms in 2000.