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
    +4

    Comment number 277.

    Mugabe's govt does not represent Zimbabweans but Zanu PF. When they talk about "our Zimbabwe" they mean "their zimbabwe". They can sugar coat it as much as they like but everything they do is for their benefit not all Zimbabweans.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 276.

    @259 Zva true Zim "US has more blacks in prison than their University."
    ----------------
    Are you saying you are proud of this 'fact' or are you saying blacks aren't smart because they commit crimes & go to prison?

  • Comment number 275.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 274.

    I would have thought that someone at the age of 89 would be more than happy to hand over the reigns of power to someone younger, more forward-thinking, etc. This is totally ignoring any other issues with Mr. Mugabe. I suppose he must have his reasons. The bread basket of Africa turned into a basket case. (This was The Economist's view in 2002; nothing much has changed since then as far as I see).

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 273.

    The foreign zim 254
    Would love to have nothing to do with Zimbabwe unfortunately we have at least 500000(that we know of) Of it's nationals living here,as for Mugabe the only person in this world that can justify him is him.He represents,Mr Mandela apart,what African leaders are.Thats fine,Africa has always been the same.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 272.

    Zimbabwe is an African version of 'Capitalism' - we see this taken to the extreme because they can. In the UK we have banking taken to the extreme because there were no rules and they could.

    The billions taken by the few (banks) and paid for by the population does not differ that much from the blatant corruption in Africa; it's just done in a covert way. We need to halt excesses in capitalism.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 271.

    This is an interesting piece. Is there a good place to get more information about the history of this topic?

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 270.

    ex-Pres of Botswana explained the diff between Protectorate & Country. Protectorate is insulated from Exploitation for favours-done, while Independent is fair-game however foul the means. And colonists decide exemption or who destined for serfdom. That is what Humanity outside of Europe & US have been contending with, and what Robert Mugabe made his stand against. Slowly but Surely he is Winning.

  • rate this
    -7

    Comment number 269.

    @LionelRhodes should be told that Ian Smith was a racist illegal leader who saw blacks as God given slaves to serve white Rhodesians' interests. Zimbabweans will never be grateful to the Rhodesian racists and will often tell you what you want to hear, including that life under Smith's Rhodesia was paradise and curse you as soon as you turn your back! Zimbabwe is Zimbabwean full stop!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 268.

    I bet Dave is busy making notes on how to win an election. He'd love the chance to get seven terms in by dubious means and reduce the UK to the state Zimbabwe is now in.

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 267.

    246.qualia
    42 Minutes ago
    rockandhardplace

    What has aid ever done to help make an African or Asian country independent? NOTHING
    --------------

    No - because despots like Mugabe spend a lot of it on themselves and put most of it in a secret bank account and leave the people of the country destitute.

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 266.

    Zimbabwe is getting there, throwing off their colonial shackles. It is not for us to interfere in how they organise their country, they had nearly 100 years of that. Their democracy will evolve and become stronger, even the popular Mugabe has to move on one day. (in a wooden box).

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 265.

    Aid is the perfect vehicle for disposal of Surplus to incur political Favours. 100% of Aid must be spent in Donor Country, most of which is devoured by Consultants. Aid is even said to be exploited for Laundering stockpiled 'paper' into Money. It is no accident that every Independent thinking Nation is routinely attacked by US & Europe, one thing Never tried by US & Europe in Africa is Fairness.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 264.

    “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it--always.” Mahatma Ghandi

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 263.

    Zimbabwe Is a struggle of Africa against Europe, had Mugabe not started Thinking for himself he would still be sporting his Knighthood.
    First it was 350,000 voters denied, now it's 1 million despite African Union testimony of a Fair election. Lord knows what that number will be tomorrow. Tsvangirai desperately needs to shed his Massa complex, besides opposing Mugabe he has no Policy to offer.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 262.

    Zimbabwe was given its independance in the Early 80s. The majority namely the Black people took back control, They then started reclaiming Land and farms that had be stolen from their Ancestors by Colonialists at the Point of Gun. Not problem they can do what they like it's their land.. The white man has done a lot of wrong in Africa. But I don't think that the likes of Mugabe or Amin are better.

  • Comment number 261.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 260.

    So dark days for Zimbabwe continue. But it is an African problem and if it is to be solved the Africans must do it.

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 259.

    WILL and THE REST. if you have little education you will see a country needs to borrow money from somewhere and Zimbabwe is under sanctions because we don't want to let still our diamonds. let us trade our minerals we dont want your aide let us trade freely. DRC is worse when it comes to human rights so as USA and UK killing in Iraq etc and USA has more blacks in prisons and than their university

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 258.

    13 ichabod
    I doubt the Chinese are propping up Mugabe.
    USA and UK are unfortunately the worst for that sort of thing in recent decades.
    Older Africans say Zim, and many African countries, were a lot better off under British rule.
    Sadly for us now, Britain was a different country in those days.

 

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