By: Carien du Plessis
President Robert Mugabe has told Zanu-PF supporters to go out there, head corporations, work the land, and not stand back for white people.
“We have been conditioned to respect the white man,” he said in a rare English phrase during his two and a half hour speech, which was mostly in Shona. “People are saying they’re afraid of white people. Are they afraid of their long ears? They’re even afraid of ears now,” he said to laughter.
He spoke yesterday to about 40 000 supporters in Harare’s 60 000-seater National Sports Stadium at one of Zanu-PF’s final rallies before Wednesday’s polls.
He said Zimbabweans were losing “part of our earth, part of our land” because mining companies came from abroad, took the mineral resources and left.
“My gold, precious, is under the earth,” he said. “That gold is much more meaningful to me because it’s part of my land, the earth where I have my residence.”
He said the Zimbabweans’ share of the mineral resources in the country was “more significant” than the capital companies injected into the mines. “The money comes and goes, my share is there in Mother Earth.”
He added that Zimbabwe had “destroyed colonialism” and now needed to write new economics textbooks for the children because “colonialism” and “exploitation” were currently being taught.
He said with their good education, people should become directors and owners of companies and white people should be their employees.
“Zimbabweans must benefit from this land. If others want to share, they should come not as masters but as subordinates.”
Zanu-PF’s policy of indigenisation requires foreign-owned companies in Zimbabwe to give 51% ownership to the state.
In contrast, MDC-T, the party headed by his rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, is pushing for a policy called “JUICE”, which would encourage foreign investment and the opening up of Zimbabwean markets.
Mugabe also told people to work the land so that the land could look after them, and so that they could keep the land.
He said the new, black farmers were doing things for themselves and “they aren’t waiting for the whites”.
He said the white farmers of old said farming was theirs, and claimed not to make much profit from it. “They were lying,” he said. He said black farmers now contributed a significant amount to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Mugabe (89), whose age has been called a “national crisis” by Tsvangirai, said what had kept him going so long was “that I want to educate the young”, give them skills and make them masters of their own destiny.
Zimbabwe’s literacy rates are the highest in Africa.
Although he attacked Britain and the US, Mugabe yesterday held back on attacks on his southern neighbour after earlier lashing out at Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu for his stance on the human rights of gays, and at President Jacob Zuma’s envoy Lindiwe Zulu.
Zulu had been communicating the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC’s) concerns about Zimbabwe’s readiness for Wednesday’s elections, but last week Zuma said her utterances were “unfortunate”.
A member of the SADC facilitation team yesterday told City Press Zuma had to do it because Zulu was too “open”.