Mugabe blasts 'British Gaydom' in funeral rant

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe on Thursday condemned gay “filth” in Europe, as he lambasted Western powers for maintaining their asset freeze and travel ban on him and his inner circle, and vowed to press ahead with the takeover of foreign firms.

“We don’t worry ourselves about the goings-on in Europe,” he told thousands at the burial of deputy intelligence chief Menard Muzariri, who died on Monday.

“About the unnatural things happening there, where they turn man-to-man and woman-to-woman. We say, well, it’s their country. If they want to call their country British Gaydom, it’s up to them.
That’s not our culture. We condemn that filth.

“We get alarmed when these countries have the audacity to schedule us as an item to discuss in their Parliament.”

Homosexuality is illegal in the southern African country. While the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (Galz) association is allowed to operate, it suffers police harassment.

“We must unite in opposing and condemning the sanctions,” he said.

“We must demonstrate that we are ready to defend our country and sacrifice our lives. The enemy will try by all means to destroy us, but if we are united, we are strong.”

Mugabe and members of his inner circle were slapped with European Union and United States sanctions in 2002 after disputed presidential elections.

His call for unity comes in the wake of widening cracks in the power-sharing deal with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, his primary political rival.

Mugabe also said the government would go ahead with the takeover of foreign companies, a scheme that has rattled investors, and told Western countries to stop meddling in his country’s affairs.

Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (PF) (Zanu-PF) is at odds with Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), over his plan to force foreign-owned firms, including mines, to transfer at least 51% of their shares to black Zimbabweans.

“We proceed with our indigenisation and empowerment policy and programmes must be worked out to ensure that our resources are managed by us, they are controlled and exploited by us and that they benefit the majority of our people,” Mugabe said in his speech at the burial.

The unity government of the resource-rich state has sent mixed signals to foreign investors, with Zanu-PF threatening takeovers and MDC officials painting a rosy picture of an emerging economy where overseas capital will be safe.

The government published regulations last month giving mining companies 45 days to set out their plans for transferring ownership stakes to black Zimbabweans.

Some of the companies affected include the world’s top platinum producers Anglo Platinum and Impala Platinum, and global mining titan Rio Tinto.

Mugabe, 87, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, has previously accused foreign companies of working with the West in a plot to remove him from power.

“If our economy is controlled by outsiders, similarly the politics will be controlled by outsiders,” he said.

The West has imposed sanctions on Mugabe and his allies on charges of election rigging and human rights abuses but the veteran leader said this was punishment for his seizure of white-owned commercial farms to redistribute to blacks.

Mugabe, who is pushing for presidential and parliamentary elections this year, two years ahead of schedule, needs cash to help him fund his campaign and arm his soldiers as he tries to defeat the MDC, which has warned the election could lead to a bloodbath.

Zimbabwe is drafting a new constitution to pave the way for new elections, following disputed 2008 polls that led to the unity government, but the process has often been marred by violence.

Last month, Tsvangirai threatened to pull out of the unity government following the arrest of his energy minister, Elton Mangoma.—Sapa-AFP, Reuters

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