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Zimbabwe threatens West with 'tit-for-tat' action on sanctions

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe looks on during his inauguration and swearing-in on August 22, 2013 in Harare
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe looks on during his inauguration and swearing-in ceremony on August 22, 2013. Mugabe on Sunday threatened "tit-for-tat" actions against Western countries that have imposed sanctions on his rule, suggesting US and British

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Sunday threatened "tit-for-tat" actions against Western countries that have imposed sanctions on his rule, suggesting US and British firms could be targeted.

"They should not continue to harass us," said the 89-year-old veteran leader whose re-election last month drew Western doubts over the credibility of the polls.

"We have British and American companies here and we are treating them well. There will come a time when we will lose our patience."

The United States and European Union imposed sanctions including travel bans and asset freezes on Mugabe and members of his inner circle and several companies following 2002 elections which western observers said were rigged.

"They have companies here and we have not imposed controls or sanctions against them but time will come when we will say tit-for-tat. You hit me, I hit you. You impose this on me, I impose this on you," Mugabe said.

"Our attitude is not going to continue as it was in the past -- passive. We have had enough and enough is enough."

Dancers perform during the inauguration and swearing-in of the Zimbabwean president on August 22, 2013 in Harare
Dancers perform during the inauguration and swearing-in ceremony of the Zimbabwean president on August 22, 2013.

Mugabe won an extension to his 33-year rule in general elections on July 31, which were slammed as "a farce" by his rival Morgan Tsvangirai and prompted serious concerns from Western nations.

Local observers said the elections were fraught with irregularities but observers from the African Union and the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) bloc were less critical.

Mugabe was sworn in last week after the constitutional court declared the elections "free, fair and credible."

He has vowed to forge ahead with his controversial equity drive to force foreign companies to cede majority shares to local investors.

So far mining companies including Zimplats, a subsidiary of the South African-based Impala Platinum, and Anglo American Corporation's Unki mines have been forced to sell their majority stake to locals.

Companies in the retail sector are set to follow.

The EU earlier this year retained an asset freeze and travel ban on Mugabe but eased most of its decade-old restrictions on Zimbabwe.

People dance during a concert after the inauguration of the Zimbabwean president on August 22, 2013 in Harare
People dance and celebrate during a concert after the inauguration and swearing-in ceremony of the Zimbabwean president on August 22, 2013 in Harare.

The majority of those on the US sanctions list still remain, including a travel ban and asset freeze on individuals and entities with links to Mugabe.

Mugabe was addressing mourners at the burial of Mike Karakadzai, a retired air commodore and hero of the 1970s liberation war, who died aged 56 on Tuesday.

In his first public speech since Thursday's swearing-in, he targeted Tsvangirai, his former partner in a shaky powersharing government, as "an ignoramus" and "a lone stray locust."

This was in reaction to Tsvangirai's attempt to seek a court's help to overturn the polls and his calls to rid the security forces of officers allied to Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party.

"I hope our people will never repeat the same mistake and choose an ignoramus when you have bright children who went to university. I wonder what you admire in him," he said.

On security reforms that were meant to precede the polls, he also hit out at Tsvangirai.

"What sector reform can you a lone stray locust implement? When has the frog aspired to be the crocodile?" he said.

"You are better off with an ignorant person who is conscious of his ignorance. It becomes a problem when you assume your ignorance is wisdom and lead people into trouble."

The vote ended the pair's regionally brokered compromise government forced by chaotic 2008 polls.

This time round the electoral commission declared Mugabe the winner with 61 percent of the vote, against 34 percent for Tsvangirai.

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