New Zimbabwe (London)

Zimbabwe: Asians, Ali Babas Ripping Us Off - Mugabe

President Robert Mugabe has voiced his frustration with Asian investors and sly dealers from the Middle East, accusing them of abusing his Look East policy to loot the country's mineral wealth.

Mugabe warned his government to be wary in its dealings with investors from Asia and the Middle East during a televised keynote address to Zanu PF's annual underway in Chinhoyi on Friday.

All but admitting that the country's desperation for foreign partners had left Zimbabwe vulnerable to the greedy and the crooked, Mugabe said: "Yes we cannot do it alone. We will need friends; true, we can get friends.

"We have been looking East - our friends cannot just come to us for nothing. Fine, we can discuss terms with them; get loans from them to get us started.

"But we must be careful and not go into agreements we shall regret tomorrow because they disadvantage us. We would have given away too much."

Once feted by the West in the 1980s as a leader the developing world could emulate, Mugabe has since fallen out with his erstwhile backers in London and Washington.

Relations between Harare and the West soured over the Zanu PF leader's land reforms as well as alleged human rights abuses and electoral fraud which Mugabe denies.

when he was a hit with debilitating economic sanctions, Mugabe responded with a much-vaunted Look East policy, actively quoting support from China which has now gained a significant hold on the country's economy.

Zanu PF conference ... National Chairman Simon Khaya Moyo addresses delegates

But observers expressed concern over some of the deals, many of them notoriously opaque, and Mugabe's remarks Friday suggest uneasy in the top echelons of the regime.

Meanwhile, the discovery of diamond riches at Marange in the eastern Manicaland province and their subsequent ban from European markets also saw the government pawn the gems in the Middle East, earning amounts well below their market value.

Mugabe admitted Friday that nothing significant had come from the "Ali Babas".

"Let's be careful about vana Ali Baba ava. They will cheat us and make us run and run and expect and expect, nothing, nothing, nothing will come our way," he said.

Decked out in full party regalia, the bullish Zanu PF leader thanked supporters for handing his party an emphatic victory in the July 31 general elections.

"Zviye zvamakandiita mu 2008 ndakakanganwa, sengikhohliwe, ngoba ngiyajabula kathesi. Thank you for giving this party this high level of honour," he said.

He also poured scorn on the Monday tea sessions at State House with former premier Morgan Tsvangirai saying while the MDC-T leader swore by the useless get togethers, he was in fact busy preparing for the new elections.

"2008 yakauya tikati ah toshanda nana Tsvangirai vamwe vakati ah President atengesa, atengesa ndikati ah regai nditengese zvangu," he said.

"Ndikati haiwa ngatishande pamwechete. Vana Tsvangirai nana Arthur Mutambara taiita meet every week in State House tichinwa tea tese zvakanakanaka asika takanga tichishanda kuparty yedu tichiziva zvatirikuita," he said.

The fractious coalition government, put together after the violent 2008 elections, is credited with helping stabilise the economy and ease political tensions, but Mugabe said, for his party, it had been the earthly incarnation of hell.

"We went through a tortuous world, a five year humiliation period," he said.

"But takangozvidukupisa over those five years tichiziva kuti the people will get to know who this other side are and we are happy you now know.

"If you want to go back again hameno zvenyu munotswa ikoko. Kugehenaka uko. You know now the difference between heaven and hell. Kana manga musingazive kuna satan, ndikoko."

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