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President Mugabe Urges Zimbabwean Unity, Reprises Anti-Western Rhetoric

Mr. Mugabe invited international mining companies to invest in Zimbabwean resource extraction - but cautioned that they would have to do so with black indigenous Zimbabwean partners

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, speaking Monday at the burial of a hero of the 1970s liberation struggle, urged Zimbabweans to unite and work together for national development and prosperity.

The president was delivering a eulogy at the Heroes Acre burial of liberation participant Ntombiyelanga Takawira. Such ceremonies are often the occasion for politically significant declarations by Mr. Mugabe.

Also attending the ceremony was Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change party, and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, head of a rival MDC formation.

Mr. Mugabe invited international mining companies to invest in Zimbabwean resource extraction - but cautioned that they would have to do so with black indigenous Zimbabwean partners, this an apparent brushback to those in the unity government who would ease restrictions on foreign stakeholdings.

Resorting to his trademark anti-Western rhetoric, Mr. Mugabe accused former colonial power Britain and the United States of meddling in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs, rallying Zimbabweans to resist foreign domination.

Political analyst John Makumbe of the University of Zimbabwe told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that Mr. Mugabe’s call for unity and peace was commendable, but questioned the political and economic wisdom of the president’s continued anti-Western declarations.

Meanwhile, intra-governmental negotiations to resolve so-called outstanding issues troubling the power-sharing government in Harare, scheduled to pick up on Sunday, failed to take place. Political sources said one of the negotiators for Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party was out of the country.

Officials from both MDC formations told VOA they were growing impatient with the prolonged negotiation process aimed at resolving issues remaining from the February 2009 formation of the government or which have arisen since then. Southern African leaders have also signaled impatience.

In Harare High Court, meanwhile, the the trial of MDC senator Roy Bennett on treason charges continued. Attorney General Johannes Tomana, who has taken personal charge of the prosecution, stunned the court in saying that the army and intelligence services should work with police in criminal investigations, reported VOA Studio 7 correspondent Thomas Chiripasi.

Elsewhere, Harare police arrested freelance news photographer Shadreck Andrison Manyere as he was filming a demonstration by the activist group Women of Zimbabwe Arise, media sources said. Two unidentified women were also arrested in the protest in central Harare called by the activist group to protest unaffordable school fees and low teacher salaries.

Human rights lawyer Dzimbabwe Chimga, counsel for Manyere, said no charges have been lodged against the photojournalist. He said the officer in charge at Harare Central Police Station had ordered Manyere to be released.

A WOZA statement later said Manyere had been released.

Manyere’s arrest follows the departure from Zimbabwe on Friday of journalist Stanley Kwenda, who reportedly fled after receiving threatening phone calls from suspected agents of the Central Intelligence Organization.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa condemned Manyere’s arrest and the alleged threats against Kwenda. It said the apparent crackdown threatened media freedom, and urged the unity government to respect media rights.