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The BBC's Joseph Winter in Harare
"Mining companies will breathe a huge sigh of relief"
 real 28k

The BBC's David Shukman
"Thirty people have been killed so far"
 real 28k

Friday, 16 June, 2000, 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK
Mugabe 'misquoted' over mines
President Mugabe and body guards on campaign trail
Mugabe's campaign trail has been dogged by controversy
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has moved to calm fears following comments he made that mine ownership would be changed just as white-owned farms were being taken over.

Speaking at a Rally in Kadoma, 140 kilometres (85 miles) west of the capital, Mr Mugabe said he was misquoted.

"I did not say we were going to take over the gold mines. I never said so. We have been working with some of the multinationals to open up to some of our individual entrepreneurs".

"There won't be any seizure, never ever of gold mines but what we would want to pursue (is) the policy of empowerment and get our multi-national companies to open up to some of the black entrepreneurs," he added.



I did not say we were going to take over the gold mines. I never said so

Robert Mugabe

In an interview published on Thursday in the UK's Independent newspaper, Mr Mugabe said that after redistributing farmland confiscated from whites, his next goal was what he called the "indigenisation" of Zimbabwean mines.


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... 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."

His comments were condemned by the main opposition Movement For Democratic Change, who accused the President 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.

Foreign concern

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

Britain has an estimated 400 companies in Zimbabwe, and a total investment estimated at over 100m ($150m).


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

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 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.

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See also:

15 Jun 00 | Africa
Mugabe's mine plans condemned
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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