July 11, 2009 / 12:28 PM / 10 years ago

Zimbabwe's Mugabe criticizes West for conditional aid

HARARE (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe on Saturday criticized Western nations for setting conditions for aid to his devastated country and questioned whether a government he formed with rivals was truly united.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe attends an international investment conference in the capital Harare July 9, 2009. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Mugabe formed a fragile unity government with arch-foe Morgan Tsvangirai, now prime minister, in February that many hoped would end political violence and lead to economic recovery.

But a tour of Western nations in June by Tsvangirai to woo investors yielded scant funds and put him under pressure to persuade Mugabe to agree to reforms to secure foreign aid.

Mugabe told mourners at a state funeral of an ally and top commander during the liberation struggle that the West had humiliated Tsvangirai for calling for reforms before aid.

“Let’s not humiliate ourselves any further. We go to those friends who are prepared to work with us and work with us on the basis of partnerships on equal terms,” Mugabe said.

He denies that his policies have wrecked the once-prosperous country but blames sanctions as punishment for seizing white-owned commercial farms to resettle blacks.

He has accused the MDC of not doing enough to call for the removal of Western sanctions, mostly travel bans and asset freezes targeted at members of his ZANU-PF party, and questioned whether the government with his former rivals was really united.

“Are we truly one in the inclusive government? Are we united? Lets show it all of us that we are united and speak with one voice ... that no longer seeks the support of our oppressors,” Mugabe told hundreds of mourners.

He said white farmers who lost their land would not be allowed back to the farms “unless we ourselves decide, through the proper measures we take, to allocate to them out of mercy what we decide they should get.”

Tsvangirai and members of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party did not attend the state burial on Saturday.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said his party was absent because the conferment of hero status was still done by ZANU-PF’s supreme decision-making body, the politburo.

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