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Mugabe unbending over MDC talks
LENDING SUPPORT: Buffalo City mayor Sindisile Maclean and
Robert Mugabe at the University of Fort Hare
graduation ceremony. Picture by PHILLIP NOTHNAGEL
By Adrienne Carlisle
ALICE -- President Robert Mugabe yesterday again effectively scotched any hope of his ruling Zanu(PF) party sitting down for talks with opposition Movement for Democratic Change any time soon.
The Zimbabwean president said here that as long as the MDC was "dictated to" by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, dialogue with it was not possible.
Mugabe has already insisted that the MDC recognise him as legitimately-elected president before he engage in talks with them.
Addressing about 400 Zimbabwean students at the University of Fort Hare yesterday, Mugabe said if the "MDC put its house in order" and adopted what he referred to as "basic principles", Zanu(PF) might find itself able to "interact with it".
He praised Nigeria and South Africa for "standing firm" in their belief that the Zimbabwean situation must be resolved by Zimbabwe and Africa.
He said "sacred principles", such as those held by Zanu(PF) on land ownership could not be sacrificed "on the altar of expediency". Zimbabwe would not be cowed by what Blair and US President George W Bush had "done in Iraq".
He said while he expected one or two people to die in the war to extend sovereign control over Zimbabwe's resources, the people always, ultimately, won such wars. Mugabe acknowledged to the students that the situation "back home" was difficult with a drought, sanctions, shortages and high prices for basic foodstuffs. But he predicted a better year ahead with better agricultural and other yields.
He vehemently dismissed the suggestion, to cheers from the students, that his government's land acquisition and allocation policy was "disastrous". He said emerging farmers were facing a new situation but would be assisted by government. The newly appointed land review committee was looking into implementation of the policy and would soon report how it was going.
He said those white farmers who continued to campaign for Zimbabwean people to be tenants and servants could leave the country and he would not "shed a tear". Those that wished to stay and work within the policy were free to do so.
Mugabe called on students who qualified in SA to return to Zimbabwe and contribute to the well-being of that country. He is in the country to attend ANC veteran Walter Sisulu's funeral today.