President Yoweri Museveni wound up a state visit to Zimbabwe on Tuesday by supporting the controversial land reform policies of President Robert Mugabe, his former foe in a five-year war in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Museveni said Mugabe did not deserve to be â€œostracisedâ€ or â€œdemonisedâ€ by anyone, even less by Western governments, over his policy of seizing thousands of white-owned farms and distributing them to landless blacks.
â€œI donâ€™t see why Zimbabwe should be ostracised because of this issue of the land, a matter which was mishandled by many players including... the British,â€ Museveni told reporters.
He accused former colonial ruler, Britain, of failing to pay for land reforms in Zimbabwe as it did in Kenya.
Museveni said his visit to Harare at Mugabeâ€™s invitation was partly business and â€œitâ€™s partly solidarity, yes, because I donâ€™t see how European countries or anybody outside Africa can demonise leaders of the liberation movement.â€
â€œIf there are differences we shall discuss them, but the historical role of leaders of the liberation movements must be accepted unequivocally,â€ he said.
Mugabe said Museveniâ€™s trip â€œwas meant to revive our cooperation which came to a standstill some time ago.â€
He thanked Museveni for reviving the friendship.
Museveni arrived on Monday for his first visit to Zimbabwe since the end of the war in the DRC, which began in 1998.
During the trip, Mugabe and Museveni formally buried the hatchet over their conflict, describing it as a â€œhiccup over the differences in the DRC,â€ a statement issued on Tuesday said.
It said the two leaders had â€œrenewed their commitment to strengthen the long and traditional bond and solidarity.â€
Museveni was backed by a high-profile delegation including businessmen to discuss issues like trade with Zimbabwe, which is in the throes of an economic crisis triggered by Mugabeâ€™s 2000 land reform programme.
The forced seizure of some 4,000 of Zimbabweâ€™s 4,500 white-owned commercial farms wrecked havoc in the agriculture sector in once southern Africaâ€™s breadbasket economy.
The two leaders signed memorandums of understanding to cooperate in areas of agriculture and tourism and Museveni visited a formerly white-owned farm, now run by a black under the land reform programme.
Museveni said the easiest way to deal with mercenaries in Africa was to shoot them.
Some 68 men were convicted and sentenced in Zimbabwe last month over an alleged plot to overthrow the government in Equatorial Guinea in a coup.
Museveni said even if the mercenaries had succeeded to make it to Equatorial Guinea, they would not have accomplished their mission.
Museveni backs Mugabe on land