Mugabe issues new threats to white businesses

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A defiant President Robert Mugabe warned the white community in Zimbabwe yesterday that he intended to step up land reforms and would give economic control to black Zimbabweans.

Expressing joy at his victory in the turbulent presidential poll as he was sworn in for a further six-year term, the 78-year-old Mr Mugabe described it as a triumph for democracy in Zimbabwe and a "stunning blow to imperialism".

The international community has denounced the election on 9 and 10 March as massively rigged and illegitimate, and yesterday's ceremony was boycotted by US, British and other EU envoys. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was not invited.

To cheers from party supporters, Mr Mugabe lashed out at Britain, as he warned whites of his intent to "greatly" speed up land reform and the "indigenisation" of the economy. By that, he meant support for black business and takeovers of minority-owned companies.

Mr Mugabe said Britain, the former colonial power, and its "white allies" in the West declared the poll not to be free and fair because Mr Tsvangirai, their favoured candidate, lost.

"But it is our people who decide, who must say so, not you, sirs, and not one person in 10 Downing Street," Mr Mugabe said. "That ugly head of racism we thought we had smashed, we have left it alive, it has risen again. A blow to the head and not the body of the monster is what we need," he said.

The MDC secretary general, Welshman Ncube, said the President's inaugural speech showed "the same old Mr Mugabe – combative and stuck in another world".