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Zimbabwe tells investors our way or no way

Associated Press / October 1, 2010

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HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe’s president yesterday told foreign investors that they must accept black Zimbabweans as the major shareholders in their projects — or stay away from the southern African nation.

Strict empowerment laws slated for phased enforcement over the next five years require black Zimbabweans to control 51 percent of each business.

At the funeral of a veteran leader in his ZANU-PF party Tuesday, Mugabe acknowledged the laws may deter potential investors, but said anyone who wanted to share the nation’s resources “must get our permission to do so, in the manner we define’’ or stay away.

“We have the skills, and we are saying we use these skills now as owners, not as managers,’’ Mugabe said.

Zimbabwe is rich in farmland and minerals. Mugabe’s statements come more than a month after Zimbabwe sold its first batch of some 900,000 carats of diamonds, ending a nine-month ban. The 2006 discovery in Zimbabwe of one of the biggest diamond finds in southern Africa has generated great interest.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his party leaders in a coalition with Mugabe boycotted the funeral, which they described as a political event and not a state occasion.

Ephraim Masawi, a former lawmaker and provincial governor in Mugabe’s party, died Saturday of cancer at age 60. He recruited guerrillas for the bush war that ended white rule at independence in 1980.

Mugabe said Masawi, a political commissar in his party’s Soviet-era style politburo, fought against colonial dominance and Western foes still seeking ways, including investment, to reestablish their influence in the country.

“Let them stay away. Our true friends are eager to come,’’ said Mugabe, who has championed stronger economic ties with Asian and Middle East countries.

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