HARARE, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- Newly sworn in President Robert Mugabe said on Thursday that his new government will intensify mineral exploitation to drive economic growth and improve living standards of people.
In his speech after inauguration, Mugabe said the new government will seek to urgently address issues of food security, water supply in urban areas, health provision and infrastructure that have all deteriorated following years of Western sanctions on the southern African country.
Reckoning that Western sanctions were likely to remain on the country for some time, Mugabe said full exploitation of the country's abundant natural resources would be key to turning around the fortunes of the country.
"We need to believe in ourselves by turning to our natural resources. The mining sector will be the center piece of our economic recovery and growth," he told thousands of Zimbabweans and foreign dignitaries that thronged the 60,000-seat stadium to witness his inauguration.
He said his new government will push ahead with the indigenization and economic empowerment policy under which foreign firms including mines are required to cede controlling stakes to locals as "it was our chosen path to full sovereignty."
The policy, he said, would anchor the country's development endeavors.
He said Zimbabwe must not be a bystander on its natural resources but must have full control over exploitation of its non- renewable natural resources.
"We want to have controlling shares in all non-renewable natural resources where can do it alone but where we cannot do it alone, we will seek partners under the 51/49 percent shareholding structure," he said.
Zimbabwe possesses huge deposits of minerals such as platinum, gold, diamonds and chrome.
Turning to the West that has refused to endorse his re-election in the July 31 vote, Mugabe said he will not care much about their rejection of his victory.
"They are entitled to their views for as long as they recognize that the majority of our people endorsed the election outcome," he said.
The West led by the U.S. and Britain has refused to accept Mugabe's victory alleging the elections were flawed. The U.S. has since announced that it will not lift sanctions on Mugabe and his close associates until reforms and elections that express the will of the people are held.
Mugabe said the Zanu-PF controlled government would move with speed to address social challenges bedeviling the country that include erratic water supplies in urban areas, poor sanitation in rural areas and poor health delivery.
The country's road networks will be rehabilitated while new energy projects will be implemented to increase power supply, he said.
Efforts will also be made to reverse de-industrialization in the country's major cities including in Bulawayo, once the country' s industrial hub but now a "sorry industrial scrap yard," he said.
He bemoaned that Zimbabwe had been reduced to a dumping ground for imports from all over the world and that it had become a net importer of finished goods and net exporter of raw materials.
"These are structural handicaps that we must tackle head on," he said.
Mugabe's inauguration marked the end of a four-year coalition government with the main rival Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party.
It also marked the coming into full force of a new constitution adopted in March that limits, for the first time, terms of office for the president.
Among the dignitaries attending the inauguration were heads of state and government of Equatorial Guinea, Tanzania, Namibia, Mozambique, Mauritius and the Democratic Republic of Congo.