Mugabe slams 'racist" west

HARARE: President Robert Mugabe on Monday lashed out at "racist" western states wary of Zimbabwe's power-sharing deal, saying foreign handouts were not a solution to the country's economic woes.

"The West seeks to divide us and disturb our peace. If they do not want to deal with us why should we continue to want their help," Mugabe told thousands gathered at a funeral for his ally and deputy Joseph Msika.

"Zimbabwe need not be tied to any one corner of the world, least of all, to a corner of former imperialist and racist colonisers. We are not part of western Europe and the United States."

Mugabe's rhetoric comes days after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pushed for greater reforms while on a visit to South Africa where the two countries pledged to work together to speed up Zimbabwe's power-sharing pact.

The 85-year-old leader joined Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in a unity government in February after disputed polls saw him lose his first post-independence majority.

But Western powers have pushed for evidence of reform and an international chill remains towards Mugabe amid reports of continued rights abuses and internal power-struggles over key posts.

Mugabe spurned foreign assistance, saying "great nations" were built on their own endowment at the funeral of Msika who was one of two deputy presidents from his party who joined the unity arrangement.

"Let everyone in the inclusive government and the country generally know that our nation will never prosper through foreign handouts," he said.

Msika was one of the founder nationalists who waged a liberation war against the British colonial rule, and died of hypertension on Wednesday.

His burial was attended by senior government officials including Tsvangirai, deputy prime minister Mutambara and representatives of regional leaders including South Africa's deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe.