Zimbabwe’s Mugabe defends majority ownership plan in foreign firms

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PRETORIA Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday defended ’s drive to majority control of -owned companies, saying investors must pay for exploiting Africa’s mineral wealth.

first state visit to neighbouring Africa two decades, Mugabe was also defiant on Zimbabwe’s seizure of white owned commercial farms for redistribution to blacks.

Land is also an emotive issue Africa, where most of it remains white hands since apartheid ended two decades ago despite the ruling party’s efforts at redistribution.

The veteran , in power since Britain in 1980, has approved a law obliging -owned firms, including mines, to sell at least 51 percent of ownership to black Zimbabweans.

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“The capital that is aimed at mining for example, is drawing my country a resource that cannot be replaced tomorrow, leaving holes in my country,” Mugabe told reporters after trade talks with African President Zuma.

“What we say therefore is we, who are owners of natural resources, must have at least have 51 percent of the earnings of that and we allow the 49 percent.”

Western countries have withheld financial aid to Harare in protest over Mugabe’s policies and charges he has rigged elections to stay in power, worsening an economic crisis that has driven millions of Zimbabweans to South Africa for jobs.

(Reporting by Joe Brock and Tendai Dube; Writing by Stella Mapenzauswa; Editing by James Macharia)