Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has told the country’s security forces to be on the watch for what he called ‘foreigners who want to loot the country’s resources’. Speaking in Harare, the country’s capital during Zimbabwe’s Defence Forces Day, Mr Mugabe urged all security forces and “progressive Zimbabweans” to remain “focused, loyal and patriotic” to defend the country’s resources.
He said: “We should join hands to resist the unjustified pander of our resources by undeserving foreign forces that come to us like friends in the name of democracy and globalization, yet they have sinister ulterior motives.”
Mugabe, who has been Zimbabwe’s leader since the country won independence in 1980, is not new to scoffing at the concept of democracy. In the past he has referred to democracy as a foreign concept to Africans. On several occasions he has said the West cannot preach democracy to him since he fought British colonial rule in Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwe leader called on his people to respect each other’s opinions and to not resort to violence in coming months, when the nation is supposed to hold a constitutional referendum and national elections. The last elections in 2008 were deeply marred by violence, most of it by Mugabe supporters against the opposition, and led to the current power-sharing government in Zimbabwe.
Under Zimbabwe’s power-sharing coalition between Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democracy and Change, the new proposed constitution must be put to a referendum before fresh elections can be held.
Mugabe also thanked security forces for protecting Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields. Human rights organizations accused security forces of abusing civilians in the diamond mines. A police officer was sentenced last month to 19 years for murdering a civilian he suspected of illegally mining diamonds.
Meanwhile, South African President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday urged Zimbabwe’s rival leaders to speed up political reforms seen as critical to avoiding another violent and disputed election.