Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe said on Tuesday he saw his victory in last month’s election as a mandate for “total” application of policies forcing foreign-owned firms to sell majority stakes to local investors.
Addressing a Defence Forces Day rally, Africa’s oldest leader at 89, maintained a belligerent defence of his re-election on July 31, which is being challenged in court as fraudulent by his main political rival, Morgan Tsvangirai.
Rejecting this challenge along with questions by Western governments about the election’s credibility, Mugabe said his new five-year term extending his 33 years in power gave him the chance to enact what he called the last chapter of a fiercely nationalist economic strategy.
His so-called “indigenization” policy seeks to redistribute wealth by forcing foreign-owned firms to sell at least 51 percent to black Zimbabweans.
The local operations of the world’s two largest platinum producers, Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum Holdings, have already been targeted by this policy, and foreign-owned banks are also seen as likely targets.
London-based Standard Chartered and Barclays are among the banks in Zimbabwe.
“Now that the people of Zimbabwe have granted us a resounding mandate in the governance of the country, we will do everything in our power to ensure that our objective of total indigenization, empowerment, development and employment is realized,” Mugabe told the rally of both civilians and soldiers.
“This is our final phase of implementing the ideals of the liberation struggle,” he added, without offering more details.
His pledge of more forceful application of a nationalist agenda offered little comfort to foreign investors, who have been hoping Zimbabwe can build on a fragile economic recovery seen under a unity government since 2009 made up of Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party and Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change.