Zimbabwe's Mugabe blasts West on aid


Mugabe and arch-foe Morgan Tsvangirai, now Prime Minister, formed a unity government in February in a bid to end a decade of heightened political hostility and an economic crisis.

For the past three weeks Tsvangirai has been on a tour of the United States and Europe to raise cash from donors. He has little money to show for it but has come under more pressure to persuade his partner to bolster democracy and human rights.

The southern African country says it needs $10 billion to rebuild dilapidated infrastructure and ease unemployment.

"Everywhere they were saying ‘no’, they will not remove sanctions. Why, why, because … they wanted ZANU-PF and Robert Mugabe to be defeated," Mugabe was quoted by state TV telling a meeting of his ZANU-PF party in Harare late Thursday.

"Sir (Tsvangirai) you have seen them, these that you call your friends. Imperialists can never be friends of those countries and people that desire for freedom."

The 85-year-old leader said Zimbabwe would get aid from friends who would not impose conditions.

He did not name the countries but in the past five years Mugabe has been trying to strengthen ties with Asian countries especially China, and with Muslim nations like Iran, sometimes promising them the country’s vast mineral deposits.

"We will get friends who will assist us, friends who will not demand conditions, we have those friends and we will show the West that we also have friends," Mugabe said.

Tsvangirai has been telling Western leaders that although democratic reforms have been slow, they were irreversible and that he had a good working relationship with Mugabe.

Zimbabwe has started hearings on a new constitution that many hope will strengthen the role of parliament, whittle down the president’s powers and guarantee civil liberties and political and media reforms.

But Mugabe appeared headed for a clash with Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) when he said ZANU-PF wanted the hearings to focus on a draft charter, named "Kariba Draft," penned by his party and the MDC in 2007.

The charter, which until Wednesday had not been made public, is a "hybrid" draft between one rejected in a 2000 referendum and another written by civic society groups the same year.

"Which country have you seen where a constitution is written by the grassroots? You don’t do that," Mugabe said.

"Our party has to be very careful and not to be derailed away from the Kariba Draft."