Prime Minister Robert Mugabe today outlined a socialist future for Zimbabwe and the eventual end of private enterprise in this southern African country.
Mugabe made it clear that, in the long-term, capitalism will have no role in Zimbabwe. White-owned business and industry still dominate the economy here.
His remarks are expected to deter potential foreign investors from entering the Zimbabwean economy, which is usually regarded as one of the most promising in black Africa. Local business interests, feeling the pinch of the depressed world economy and a shortage of foreign exchange after a post-independence boom, are also hardly likely to be encouraged.
In his sharpest remarks on the subject of socialism, Mugabe said at a press conference on the eve of the country's second anniversary of independence, "Eventually we hope we can socialize the entire socioeconomic system."
He gave no timetable, saying, "It will take some time to achieve" and "we will be quite judicious and cautious."
He said discussions will be held with businesses before socialization and added, "We don't want to lay ambushes on private enterprise."
He made no mention of how the policy would affect agriculture. Zimbabwe has more than 5,000 white farmers who make it one of Africa's few self-sufficient countries in food production.
However, Mugabe left no doubt about his long-term ambitions.
"Socialism means socialism," he said. "It doesn't mean at the final stage we are talking of capitalism." In the end, he added, "We must be able to say now we have achieved socialism."
Mugabe has often proclaimed his socialist credentials while at the same time saying that the country could not simply dismantle the capitalist economy it inherited after a bloody seven-year war for black-majority rule.
Today, however, he came down much harder on the side of socialism.
There has been little U.S. investment here since independence, but H. J. Heinz Co., the food processor, has been negotiating to buy a local firm that produces cooking oil in a deal believed to be worth more than $15 million. The government reportedly has been balking over Heinz' insistence at having controlling interest in a company that could produce considerable export revenue.
Mugabe combined his tough remarks with an olive branch to elements in the black and the white communities that are not part of his ruling party.
Yesterday he appointed a white minister and a deputy minister from among nine white members of Parliament who defected from former prime minister Ian Smith's Republican Front party. He also appointed three ministers from the Patriotic Front party of Joshua Nkomo. Mugabe fired Nkomo, who was coleader of the guerrilla war, and other Patriotic Front ministers two months ago for alleged involvement in caching weapons.
Mugabe said that several hundred Nkomo followers have defected from the Army and have been responsible in recent weeks for a number of violent incidents in Matebeleland, Nkomo's stronghold in southwestern Zimbabwe.
"As we also make gestures to the white community," he said, "we hope that reactionaries and very conservative elements will reorient their minds and hearts to be in line with the rest of us."
Mugabe also said he welcomed good relations with both the United States and the Soviet Union, but said Zimbabwe would refuse to "espouse the hostilities they have toward each other."