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The BBC's David Shukman
"Mr Mugabe is playing every card he has"
 real 28k

Thursday, 15 June, 2000, 16:36 GMT 17:36 UK
Mugabe's mine plans condemned
Robert Mugabe
Mugabe: "We want the struggle to continue"
Zimbabwe's main opposition party has accused President Robert Mugabe of scaring foreign investors away in an attempt to win elections in nine days time.

Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Eddie Cross said that Mr Mugabe's threat to hand over control of foreign-owned mines to skilled Africans was a disaster for the economy.

It undermines the prospect of economic recovery and any future direct foreign investment. It exacerbates capital flight and is an act of gross irresponsibility

Eddie Cross

He told the BBC that the president was trying to buy the votes of Zimbabwe's black elite, in the parliamentary elections on 24-25 June.

In an interview with the UK's Independent newspaper, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe said that after redistributing farmland confiscated from whites, his next goal was what he called the "Africanisation" of the rest of the economy.
And he said that Zimbabwe's mines faced aggressive "indigenisation".

Mugabe's supporters
Mugabe is seeking to hold on to his support among black Zimbabweans
"There must be Africans in there, as owners, not just as workers," he said.

"We are gold, copper, asbestos and iron producers. But most of the benefits are enjoyed by the former colonialists," he said.

"At the end of the day, black people must be able to say, the resources are ours - our people own the mines, our people own the industry."

Foreign concern

The former colonial power Britain, which has been critical of Mr Mugabe's rule described his comments as "pre-election posturing".

Black people must be able to say, the resources are ours - our people own the mines, our people own the industry

Robert Mugabe
Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain said "This cannot help Zimbabwean jobs, wealth and opportunities. Zimbabwe is currently suffering from a crippling shortage of foreign exchange, and a weak Zimbabwe dollar".

There are an estimated 400 British companies in Zimbabwe, and Mr Mugabe said there were too many Britons in Zimbabwe.

Total UK investment in Zimbabwe is estimated at over 100m ($150m).

International mining giant Anglo American, which has significant interests in Zimbabwe, said on Thursday it had not discussed any of its operations with the Zimbabwe Government but said that free and fair elections and respect for the rule of law is of "prime concern to us and other investors".

Zimbabwe's mining industry
1,000 mines produce gold, copper, nickel, asbestos and coal
Most small and locally owned
60% of earnings made by large foreign-owned mines
Account for 8% of GDP
And 1/3 of export earnings
Zimbabwe is facing its worst economic crisis since Mugabe led the nation to independence in 1980. Hard currency shortages have led to acute fuel shortages and curtailed vital imports, leading to a 40% decline in gold production in April.

The president has blamed the country's severe economic problems on market reforms carried out under pressure from the International Monetary Fund.

Election campaign

On Thursday the Electoral Supervisory Commission, ESC, which responsible for supervisong the electoral process went to the High Court seeking to try to prevent the government from undermining its powers.

Last week the government extended the power of the registrar general, a member of ZANU-PF, to give him full control of the election process, including the accreditation of observers and polling agents.

The ESC complains that it was not consulted, and also that it has not been allowed to oversee the registration of voters.

Earlier this week the leader of the MDC said he was forced to abandon election rallies after thousands of government supporters hijacked the rally grounds.

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See also:

07 Jun 00 | Africa
Mugabe eyes all white farms
06 Jun 00 | Africa
Zimbabwe fear spreads
12 Jun 00 | Africa
$100 fee for Zimbabwe monitors
13 Jun 00 | Africa
Zimbabwe hampers EU observers
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