Robert Mugabe delivers Zimbabwe attack on MDC rivals

 

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe: "We are delivering democracy on a platter... we say take it or leave it"

Robert Mugabe has launched a stinging attack on his opposition rivals in his first public speech since he won Zimbabwe's disputed presidential election.

Rejecting PM Morgan Tsvangirai's claims that the vote was stolen, he said those against him could "go hang".

Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) boycotted the speech.

The MDC has lodged a legal challenge against the result of the "stolen election", demanding it be rerun.

Mr Mugabe won 61% of the vote in the election on 31 July, while Mr Tsvangirai came second with 35% and Welshman Ncube third with 3%, according to official results.

The president's Zanu-PF party also gained a parliamentary majority of more than two-thirds, winning 160 of the 210 seats.

At the scene

A spirit of defiance was palpable at Heroes' Acre, reinforcing a controversial electoral victory that has possibly ushered 89-year old Robert Mugabe into office for another five-year term.

The posters overlooking the shrine captured the spirit of the moment: "There is honour in conceding defeat," and "It's Africa versus Europe".

The venom with which Mr Mugabe attacked his political rivals speaks of an unrepentant politician, who despised the power-sharing government that some believe gave him political respite over the past four years.

"They can go hang," he said, apparently referring to his former coalition partners. "Even dogs won't sniff their corpses."

For those tempted to think there may be a sudden shift in policies, another banner hailed the controversial proposal to force foreign-owned companies to relinquish 51% of their shares to locals. "Now begins the empowerment revolution."

In his Heroes' Day speech, which dealt with a series of national issues, Mr Mugabe focused at one point on his election victory and called for celebrations.

"Those who lost elections may commit suicide if they so wish. Even if they die, dogs will not sniff their corpses," he said.

"We are delivering democracy on a platter. We say take it or leave it, but the people have delivered democracy."

Zimbabwe's Western detractors had been "put to shame", he added. "Never will we go back on our victory."

Non-governmental organisations had been used to rig elections in 2008, he claimed, but Zanu-PF had never stopped planning since then and had "buried thieves in our midst".

"We found we were dining with and sharing our bed with thieves. We will never give thieves the power to rule."

Mr Mugabe's main rival Mr Tsvangirai won the first round of the 2008 presidential vote, but official results said he had failed to win outright.

He later pulled out of the second round because of attacks on his supporters, and eventually a power-sharing agreement was worked out.

Deep rifts

Heroes' Day is Zimbabwe's proud annual celebration, when the country remembers those who died during the 1970s fight for independence, reports the BBC's Mark Lowen in Johannesburg.

Zimbabwean soldiers adjust their ties at the Commemoration of Heroes' Day in Harare Zimbabwe's annual Heroes' Day honours those killed in the war for independence.
Robert Mugabe ( centre left) with his wife Grace and others attending the commemoration day Thousands attended Monday's event, including President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace.
Robert Mugabe at the Commemoration of Heroes day in Harare Mr Mugabe used the occasion to make his first public speech since being declared the winner of a disputed presidential election.
Robert Mugabe at the Commemoration of Heroes day in Harare He told those who were upset with his landslide victory to "go hang", and added that "if they die, even dogs will not sniff at their corpses".
Mr Mugabe's supporters at the commemoration event Most of those who attended the celebrations were supporters of Mr Mugabe and happy that the win extends his 33-year rule by another five years.

Mr Mugabe was speaking at National Heroes' Acre, the monument in the capital where some of those killed are buried.

Mr Tsvangirai earlier called for calm, saying there was no national celebration for the day but rather "a nation in mourning".

In a statement, published by the NewsDay newspaper, Mr Tsvangirai said the majority of Zimbabweans were "still shocked at the brazen manner in which their vote was stolen".

"We must all remain calm as we celebrate Heroes' Day. I know that we will always be a heroic people."

The MDC's boycott of the national commemoration has exposed the deep rifts at the heart of this troubled country, our correspondent says.

Mr Mugabe has not yet been sworn in for a seventh consecutive term, since the appeal is ongoing. He maintains that he and Zanu-PF won free and fair elections.

The MDC has said it has "strong evidence of electoral irregularities", including bribery, abuse of "assisted voting", and manipulation of the electoral roll.

African and regional monitors praised the poll for being peaceful but noted some irregularities.

Opposition's main complaints

  • Bribery - Village leaders were reportedly given food and kitchenware to persuade people to vote for Zanu-PF
  • Manipulation of voter roll - Voters said to have had most trouble registering in urban areas, where the MDC is strongest. More than a million names allegedly duplicates or dead people
  • Voters turned away - The MDC says 900,000 people were turned away from polling stations, mainly in the capital
  • Intimidation - There were reports of traditional leaders threatening villagers if they voted for MDC
  • Abuse of assisted voting - The MDC claims literate people were told to say they were illiterate so that they could be "assisted by Zanu-PF people"

But a local observer group, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) and its network of 7,000 observers, said that about one million voters - mainly in urban areas - were "systematically disenfranchised" by being omitted from the voters' roll or turned away.

The nine-member Constitutional Court is expected to discuss the complaint this week. It has up to two weeks to deliver its verdict.

But with several judges being supporters of Mr Mugabe, our correspondent says few expect the MDC challenge to bear fruit.

In a separate development on Sunday, state radio reported that the ministry of mines had denied a report in the Times newspaper that it had agreed to sell Iran uranium for its nuclear programme.

A ministry statement was quoted as stressing that the report was "a malicious and blatant lie", and that no export licences had been issued.

Iran's foreign minister has also denied the report.

 

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  • rate this
    +39

    Comment number 37.

    Robert Mugabe is 89 and only nature it seems will eject him from power.

    But what happens when he does go? Will democracy return to Zimbabwe or will he just replaced by another power mad despot?

    I don't think Mugabe is the problem. The problem is the political system in Africa that allows so many corrupt leaders like him to totally abuse their power.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 36.

    You have a leader who dismisses his opponents with sheer arrogance. Officials and judges who are supporters of the Zanu-PF party, a huge conflict of interest for other parties. Blatant corruption and election rigging.

    And people moan about the UK system...?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 35.

    Zimbabwe is a country in Africa, somewhere south of Zambia, and after Zambia in the alphabet. For the last 33 years it hasn't done much, has a few metals, gems that the Chinese control, that's about it. Most Brits consider Zimbabwe a past irrelevance!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 34.

    What I find incredibly ironic, is we're the ones who put him there!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 33.

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely, like any absolute ruler he will be ignorant of any challenge to his position unless there comes a coup which I cant see happening ever. The Opposition wont win in their attempt.

  • rate this
    +26

    Comment number 32.

    Isn't Africa doing just peachy with all of those billions of the wests aid money.

    This continent will implode within the next 10 years and frankly I say leave them to it they are beyond saving themselves with the weilders of power treating their countries as personal fifedoms.

    Our Aid perversly prolongs their suffering by proping up the tyrants.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 31.

    In his mid 80's, his next opponent in 5 years or so will be a harder nut to crack. The Grim Reaper doesn't go for recounts.

  • rate this
    +24

    Comment number 30.

    @22: Well, quite. Didn't they used to call Rhodesia (as it was then) the "Breadbasket of Africa" as it contained the most fertile farmland on the continent and was a net producer of food?

    Now land RM handed to his cronies is barren, he's systematically starving his people and using food aid to buy votes.

  • rate this
    +62

    Comment number 29.

    Robert Mugabe, a man whose hatred of the white minority has changed Zimbabwe from the bread basket of Africa to a desolate wasteland while he stacks millions in Switzerland in case he needs to leave the country and continue his exalted lifestyle in exile.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 28.

    Non-governmental organisations had been used to rig elections in 2008, he added, but Zanu-PF had never stopped planning since then and had "buried thieves in our midst".

    Precisely my point in the last board on this subject. Mugabe was too confident by far. Tsvangirai was foolish to enter this farce, already knowing what was going on. Too much trust in toothless and/or biased monitoring perhaps?

  • rate this
    -15

    Comment number 27.

    The West will never get involved in Zimbabwe as it has no natural resources, therefore there is no financial incentive to go near it.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 26.

    "Welshman Ncube third with 3%" Huh, someone from Wales was standing eh, why wasn't this reported on the news more...




    ;)

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 25.

    Too bad they don't have oil or we would be in there 'liberating' the people.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 24.

    Let them get on with it! If we were to help you can bet they would turn against us!

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 23.

    However much you dislike RM you have to look at his opposition - MT has failed to pursade the rural majority that he is better for the country, does MT have a plan for the economy? If he did he'd be out pursading the rural areas that it's good for them.

    RM is corrupt, power hungry and even past his use by date, but his opposition doesn't seem the least bit competent.

  • rate this
    +24

    Comment number 22.

    It amazing that Zimbabwe hasn't really hasn't really developed since Mugabe came to power in 1980. The British haven't been running Zimbabwe for 32 years, yet still Mugabe since harps on that Zimbabwe situation is UK/US's fault. Many Brits can't care less, even less about Mugabe/ZANU or less find Zimbabwe on a map.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 21.

    .

    If Mugabe did go, do we honestly think his seat would be filled by a 'nobler' politician? I think African politics works like this: get power using any means then hold on to it for as long as brutally possible!

    .

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 20.

    Wake up people.

    The UK, through the Crown, (City of London) owns most of the resources and minerals in Southern Africa. Why on earth would they want a coherent popular successful government there? Who do you think put Mugabe in and why do you think he goes to such lengths to distance himself from UK?
    The same is happening in SA where Mandela's ANC is turning SA into a banana Republic too...

  • rate this
    -29

    Comment number 19.

    I have been to Zimbabwe a couple of times in the last 18 months, and hope my analysis holds more credence

    The man has made mistakes Yes, but he is trying to make things work , and rightfully was elected as the president of Zimbabwe

    support from the west is often perceived as synonymous with democracy, this is a myth. Zimbabwe is a sovereign state, and lets support them, and not ridicule them

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 18.

    12.malcolmx786

    You would be speaking German if it was not for British imperialism.

    If not for the British Empire then Britain would not have been on the winning side against Germany as we would not have had the resources/finances or manpower to oppose Hitler, or for that matter Germany WWI.
    Britain would have been walked over & USA would have been on its own & lost against axis of evil

 

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