Mugabe begins fresh term, vows to step up local ownership drive

Mugabe begins fresh term, vows to step up local ownership drive

By Chipo Musoko, HARARE, August 22 (The Source) – President Robert Mugabe started his new term of office on Thursday with a vow to accelerate the localisation of foreign-owned firms, especially in the mining sector which he said will be reorganised.

Addressing thousands, including foreign heads of state, who gathered in Harare to witness his swearing-in as he extends his 33-year hold on power, Mugabe said his indigenisation policy was the main pillar of his ZANU-PF party’s manifesto during the July 31 election.

Mugabe is driving a populist law which requires foreign firms to transfer majority shares to local blacks.

“The time has come now for us to extend our domination to all those resources which the Almighty has been so generous enough to give us. We need a share, a controlling share in all ventures that exploit our non-renewable natural resources,” Mugabe said.

“The mining sector will be the centrepiece of our economic recovery and growth. It should generate growth spurts across sectors, reignite that economic miracle which must now happen.

Zimbabwe’s economy declined by as much a 40 percent between 2000 and 2008, halting the decline under a unity government Mugabe formed with his bitter rival Morgan Tsvangirai following a bloody disputed poll in 2008. The uneasy coalition government stabilised the economy, but the high growth rate of 9.4 percent recorded in 2009 has tapered off, with government projecting a 3.4 percent expansion in 2013, down from an initial forecast of 5 percent.

Mugabe said he expects the mining sector to continue driving economic growth, especially through new projects.

“We need to intensify the exploitation of existing deposits,” he said, adding that there were more mineral deposits that remained unexplored. “We need to explore new deposits, developing new greenfield projects in the mining sector. Above all, we need to move purposefully towards beneficiation of our raw minerals,” he said.

Mugabe also promised increased funding for agriculture.

He added that the new government would also seek to tackle the country’selectricity crisis, broken infrastructure, water shortages and the near-collapse of the manufacturing sector.

Mugabe said Zimbabwe has “been reduced to one huge warehouse, a dumping ground for all manner of imports.”