Mugabe says mining cash will be used to help poor

December 15, 2013

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (pic) vowed yesterday to use mining earnings to help the poor, and called on Zimbabweans to form their own companies to benefit from the forced sell-off of foreign-owned firms.

Closing his party's annual conference in the farming town of Chinhoyi, the veteran president told Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa to present a pro-poor budget next week.

"Find money Chinamasa," he said to loud applause from thousands of supporters. "You can't say there is no money. Where is our platinum going? Where is our gold going? Where are our diamonds going?

"The budget must tell a new story. Those who work must be paid above the poverty datum line. We can't really be at peace with our hearts if we say our people must continue to work for next to nothing."

Mugabe, 89, urged Zimbabweans to form their own companies to take part in his government's "indigenisation" programme, which forces foreign companies to cede majority shares to local black investors.

Zimbabwe is struggling with massive unemployment and its economy has been on a downturn. Many companies are operating below capacity because of cash shortages, while others have closed or moved to neighbouring countries.

The conference of Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) comes after the party won elections in July to end a shaky power-sharing government with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Zimbabwe's government, led by Mugabe since independence in 1980, is battling to find solutions to the country's economic woes. - AFP, December 15, 2013.

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