President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday took a swipe at Britain and the United States for what he called interference in internal Zimbabwean affairs, sarcastically urging them to solve their own problems including riots in London and the US fiscal quandary.
Addressing thousands on at Defense Forces Day celebrations at the National Sports Stadium in Harare, Mr. Mugabe said both countries should leave Zimbabwe alone.
"Britain I understand is on fire, London especially, and we hope they can extinguish their fire, pay attention to their internal problems and to that fire which is now blazing all over, and leave us alone," Mr. Mugabe said. We do not have any fire here and we do not want them to continue to create unnecessary problems in our country," he said.
"We want peace, and the people of Zimbabwe want peace," Mr. Mugabe said.
President Mugabe also referred to the recent fiscal tightening drama in the United States followed closely by a downgrade of the US triple-A credit rating.
Mr. Mugabe said Western sanctions have held up projects such as the acquisition of modern equipment and construction of accommodation for military personnel.
Mr. Mugabe urged Britain and other countries to remove the so-called targeted measures saying they are affecting ordinary people and hurting the economy.
US, European and other travel and financial sanctions primarily target Mr. Mugabe and about 200 top officials of his long-ruling ZANU-PF party.
Mr. Mugabe commended China for its help to the Zimbabwe Defense Forces. He said China has donated critical engineering, medical and office equipment to the ZDF.
He thanked the Chinese government for a controversial loan for the construction of a new national defense college in Harare. That project and the financial arrangements with China came under fire from the co-governing Movement for Democratic Change which questioned the need for a new defense college, and the lien on diamond revenues.
Mr. Mugabe praised the defense forces for safe-guarding Zimbabwe’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and national interest.
He commended the military for its role on various United Nations missions and on the local front where he said military units have rebuilt roads, schools and clinics.
Delegates at the commemorations included Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, several ministers from ZANU-PF and both formations of the Movement for Democratic Change, as well as senior military officials from Mozambique, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo.