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The BBC's Allan Little
"Zanu-PF are losing their grip on reality"
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Thursday, 14 December, 2000, 12:23 GMT
Mugabe criticises 'white enemy'
Mugabe supporters and white family on farm
The land issue deflects attention from economic problems
By Grant Ferrett in Harare

President Mugabe of Zimbabwe has opened a three-day special congress of his ruling Zanu-PF party with repeated denunciations of the country's white minority.

Our party must continue to strike fear in the heart of the white man, our real enemy

President Mugabe
In a vigorous and confident mood, he told the 7,000 delegates gathered in the capital Harare that 20 years after independence whites still controlled the economy and discriminated against the black majority.

The 76-year-old president also reaffirmed his determination to ignore court rulings which prevented his government's efforts to acquire white-owned farms as part of an ambitious land resettlement programme

In his address he again blamed everyone else for Zimbabwe's dire economic problems apart from his government, which has been in power since independence in 1980.

And the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the British were once again singled out for particular criticism.

Land issue

President Mugabe brought the audience to its feet roaring with approval when he argued that the government shouldn't bother to defend itself in the courts, which have repeatedly declared illegal its plans for large-scale land redistribution:

Robert Mugabe
Mr Mugabe does not expect a leadership challenge at the congress
"No judicial decision will stand in the way, we have adopted to acquire the land. After all, the land is ours by birth. It's ours by rights. It's ours also by struggle, " he told the party faithful.

The main target of Mr Mugabe's anger though was the white community, which makes up well under 1% of Zimbabwe's population.

He said all economic power was in the hands of a racial minority of colonial origins which deliberately excluded the black majority.

It was, said Mr Mugabe, a foreign-owned economy.

While such remarks go down well with the party faithful, they are likely further to alienate potential donors, who continue to withhold desperately needed economic support.

Analysts are warning of a deepening economic and social crisis for the country with businesses closing by the day and international donors reluctant to intervene.

And suggestions that his leadership will be under review have been dismissed by party officials, despite the declining fortunes for the party.

His address comes just two days after white farmer Henry Elsworth was killed in an ambush near his farm southwest of Harare - the sixth white farmer killed this year.

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See also:

13 Dec 00 | Africa
Zimbabwean white farmer shot dead
03 Dec 00 | Africa
Mugabe warns against legal action
08 Aug 00 | Africa
Summit backs Zimbabwe over land
26 Apr 00 | Africa
Who owns the land?
17 Jun 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
The politics of fear
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