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Mugabe slams Blair, vows free vote


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Zimbabwe's white farmers forced to give up land

A look at Zimbabwe's troubled economy as the country prepares for a parliamentary elections.

Zimbabwe opposition accuses Mugabe of stealing the parliamentary election

Mugabe calls the opposition "puppets" for the country's former colonial rulers

Opposition leader Tsvangirai talks to CNN's Jeff Koinange
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HARARE, Zimbabwe (CNN) -- Ahead of Thursday's parliamentary elections, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe spoke with CNN's Lagos Bureau Chief Jeff Koinange and vowed a "free and fair" election.

"People are free to campaign and they will be free to vote. There won't be any soldiers, you know, at the queues. Anyone who has the right to vote is free to go and cast his vote anywhere in his own area, in his own constituency," Mugabe said.

Mugabe also candidly discussed his country's relations with its former colonial power, Britain, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"In Blair's head there is nothing we can ever do which is right to Mr. Blair. He wants to control this country, and that's the man we are fighting in his election, or we will lose the election."

Mugabe also shared his thoughts on the opposition party, the country's food crisis and the issue of land reform.

"The land is ours. It is not European. It is our land. And we have taken it. We have given (it) to the rightful people. Those ... of white extraction who happen to be in the country and are now farming are welcome to do so, but they must do so on the basis of equality with us."

Below is the full transcript of the exchange:

KOINANGE: Mr. President, hello there. Sir, all this isolationism, you're blocking out the entire world. No country is an island today. Why are you taking that route, sir?

MUGABE: I am not isolated. It is the British who have chosen to ban the leadership of this country, but we are not isolated. We are part of the African Union, we are part of SADC (Southern African Development Community), part of COMESA (the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa).

We have lots of friends across the country, lots of friends in the eastern part of our world -- in Asia, China, India. They are all our friends. Even in Europe we have friends. France, Italy and so on. We continue trade with them, so what isolation are you talking about? Isolationism is worse than mere isolation.

QUESTION (from unidentified person): President, for two days of elections, what's your message for the United States, Europe Union?

MUGABE: I have no message for the United States. I have a message for the world, namely that my country wins -- we will win the war against Mr. Blair. And any victory by us is a victory against them.

KOINANGE: And to those people who say there's a food crisis in this country, sir, what do you tell them?

MUGABE: No. You know the weather pattern here. There is no food crisis. Even as we speak, what worries us is the fact that our crops you see has failed because of the rains -- of the drought, and we are not the only ones who are hit. It's in fact the whole region. It's Mozambique, it's Botswana, of course, is semi-desert, it's Zambia ... Malawi, in the whole region. And these vices due to off season don't visit us only but they visit everybody.

KOINANGE: Will you accept food aid, sir, if it's given to you?

MUGABE: Given by whom? And for what purposes? In charity? We have never refused donations which are well-given. But donations given with a motive, we reject.

QUESTION (from unidentified person): Sir, what's your comment regarding to under seek claims that it's not a 100 percent free and fair election.

MUGABE: Well, you are there to see what is your own judgment. The elections have always been free, but in Blair's head there is nothing we can ever do which is right to Mr. Blair. He wants to control this country, and that's the man we are fighting in this election, or we will lose the election. In other words the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) will need support.

QUESTION (from unidentified person): President Mugabe, Africans from around the world are looking to Zimbabwe for leadership on the land question.

MUGABE: That's right.

QUESTION (from unidentified person): Do you have a message for them?

MUGABE: Yes. Sure. The land is ours. It is not European. It is our land. And we have taken it. We have given it to the rightful people. Those of the white -- of white extraction who happen to be in the country and are now farming are welcome to do so, but they must do so on the basis of equality with us.

KOINANGE: Mr. President, you have to think about the other side of the equation. If Zanu-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front) does lose, if ...

MUGABE: I never think about that. Only pessimists think of the other side. I am a total optimist.

QUESTION (from unidentified person): What of these allegations coming from MDC in terms of corruption in your government, saying that the charge of corruption leading to ...

MUGABE: What corruption? I don't know about any corruption. Do they say what ...

QUESTION (from unidentified person): They're saying that there's abyss of financial resources ... the government ...

MUGABE: This is the first time I am hearing about that. We haven't had anything. These are the things they say behind our back and away from our hearing them. But if anyone has any accusations about corruption, let them make them. Within our own administration obviously, we have had cases of corruption, and where we have traced them and established them, we have punished the particular individuals concerned.

QUESTION (from unidentified person): What's the guarantee that you'll show to the world that it will be free and fair elections?

MUGABE: The guarantees are that people are free to campaign and they will be free to vote. There won't be any soldiers, you know, at the queues. Anyone who has the right to vote is free to go and cast his vote anywhere in his own area, in his own constituency. That's the only guarantee. But what guarantees do other countries give?

We have had free and fair elections since 1980. We called the 1980 free and fair, even though the regime was throwing bombs at us. I was missed by a number of bombs during that election, but when people cast their votes, they were free to do so, and the pattern of free elections is not new. We are not learning to vote, sir. We have been voting all these years.

KOINANGE: Thank you, Mr. President.


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