PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe says Zimbabwe does not need Western aid and insisted the country’s shattered economy can be turned around by increased exploitation of its mineral wealth.
Mugabe told a Zanu PF central committee meeting in Harare on Thursday that the country should forget about Western financial support and urged partners in the coalition government not to waste time on what he described as “useless initiatives”.
“Zimbabwe shall recover by her wits and resources. Zimbabwe will not be saved by any country or organisation, least of all Western. It is our mineral resources … which will turn this economy and country around
“Let our partners in the inclusive Government get that, so we do not waste our efforts on useless initiatives,” Mugabe said.
His remarks reflect growing frustration within Zanu PF at the failure by Western countries to extend significant financial support and lift sanctions after the party agreed to join up with its rivals to form the coalition administration.
Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, projected – when he presented his 2010 budget last year – that support from “cooperating partners” would top US$810 million.
But the minister has since admitted the projections were overly optimistic noting donors had only provided about US$3million in the first three months of the year.
The European Union had demanded more substantive political reforms before sanctions are lifted while analysts say the West is not convinced Mugabe will not ditch the coalition government “once funds are made available to revive the economy”.
But Mugabe is adamant the country can do without the West’s largesse adding efforts should be made to strengthen its ‘look east policy’.
“We have friends in other parts of the world ... Let us work with those for progress and let us turn our back on those who do not want to work with us.
“Let the party (Zanu-PF) take a leading role in ensuring our policy of looking east gets vindicated,” he said.
Mugabe also railed against the failure by the Kimberly Process (KP) to endorse exports of diamonds extracted from Marange district in the county’s eastern Manicaland province.
“We have been put in the dock for having diamonds in our territory and for wanting to exploit them with partners from other countries other than from these (Canada, United States and Australia) and other Western nations.
“We have been put in the dock because it is assertive Zimbabwe that has found diamonds and is thus likely to be even more assertive in outlook,” he said.
The Kimberly Process failed to reach a consensus on the issue during a recent meeting in Israel despite a recommendation by its monitor that the country had met the minimum conditions needed for the resumption of exports.
Western countries and rights organisations opposed the lifting of the export embargo while countries from the developing world backed Zimbabwe.
Mugabe said the stalemate showed Western countries were keen to see the country’s economy come to total ruin but vowed to defy the KP export ban.
“We are a sovereign country. We have no conflict here, no rebels here. We have the technology to mine (the diamonds) and will soon have the technology to polish them.
“Let no one doubt our resolve to sell them, with or without the KPCS, with or without the blessings of the USA, Canada, Australia or their NGO pawns,” he said.
Still, while Mugabe insists Zimbabwe can go it alone without help from the West, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says the country’s heavy debt burden can only be tackled through debt relief.
"Zimbabwe is in debt distress, and the debt overhang cannot be resolved without debt relief even if policies are improved and mineral extraction is increased," the organization said in a recent position paper.
The country’s total external debt is about US$6 billion.