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
    +5

    Comment number 297.

    I visited the place a few ago just before the last elections. Thought the people were fantastic and despite being British no incidents occurred or colonial rule issues mentioned apart from at immigration. However everybody I met hated Mugabe with a passion. The people we met were stick thin and there was no transport. The hotels were empty, though food available. It's nothing short of a tragedy.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 296.

    I see the BBC is removing comments that do not break house rules yet again; this kind of censorship is at odds with Western democracy and exactly the kind of thing men like Mugabe use to control their people.

    You really are giving the wrong message by censoring non-abusive comments that are relevant to the topic just because you don't agree with them. Free speech with a muzzle is not free speech.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 295.

    @290. Marson: If Zimbabweans want to eliminate Mugabe they are perfectly capable of doing it themselves. Why would Britain, a country 5000 miles away and for which Zimbabwe poses no threat be keen to "liberate" us? We value life more than anything else and do not want "friendly" fire killing us. In any case whatever problems there may be in Zimbabwe have nothing to do with Britain.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 294.

    You would have thought that after destroying their once flourishing economy and leading the people into endless years of poverty, whilst treating the people with contempt that someone would have taken him out by now? A fine example of leaders looking after nothing but own interests and stuff the rest of em! Now why does this sound so familiar? How many votes do you think our NHS is worth?

  • Comment number 293.

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

  • Comment number 292.

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

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 291.

    280. How about Blair?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 290.

    Mugabe and the Zanu-PF stand for nothing more than tribalism, racism and cronyism. The only way this group of wicked despots will ever be removed is through military force. There is only one nation with will and the experience to make this happen: Great Britain.

  • rate this
    -9

    Comment number 289.

    Euro/US 'Love' of Africans is really touching, pity it doesn't translate into Equality. Fact is the best Britain achieved in Rhodesia was Apartheid. How dare those ungrateful Zimbabweans object to being Lorded-over by Foreigners.
    Why exactly did Sir Robert loose his knighthood? For standing-up for his Country, or refusing to Sell his People out? Honest answer speak volumes for existing Knights.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 288.

    Those for Mugabe are probably posting from outside Zimbabwe ! Those who vehemently criticise the 'white' population known as UK/European are probably living in UK/Europe. Ahh, the irony!!

  • Comment number 287.

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

  • rate this
    -12

    Comment number 286.

    Despite a very obvious desperation of the descending British Empire, she is still busy in her unending mischief in meddling in her die-hard sinister ways for she does not know that her glory days are far gone and the sun has set long long time ago on her criminal past. Zimbabwe, despite its former disgraced colonist noise, is a shining example of the best possible democracy one can practice.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 285.

    Same with all African countries that are no longer under European Colonial rule just can't look after themselves.

  • rate this
    -10

    Comment number 284.

    The comments posted here show how us BBC British still have a colonial racialist view. Sour grapes at having been kicked out of the honey pot. Mugabe is a product of brutal repressive British rule and has fought hard to keep Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans. Eventually Mugabe will move on, relations with Europe will be normalised, now that there is no chance of Zimbabwe ever being colonised again.

  • rate this
    -13

    Comment number 283.

    Robert Mugabe should be given credit for standing up to colonialists and racists.
    Was the Western media so critical of Zimbabwe when it was under undemocratic white rule? Hypocrites.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 282.

    If Zimbabweans want Mugabe, fine.
    If things were so bad under white rule, and are much better now for the majority of the population, fine.
    Let us allow Zimbabwe to go its own way, but we cannot lend any support or credability to this despot regime.
    Good luck in the future with their "democratically" elected, corrupt government.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 281.

    @ 204. Ben B: Approximately 90% of the people posting here. Trust me - we (United Kingdom) do not care about colonizing you (Zimbabwe). But if we did then trust me on this - we would not fail in the attempt. (An attempt to colonize you would be about the only thing that would actually unite your country ironically).

    @ 224. ahwasright: Class. lmao

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 280.

    I like Mugabe. At least he disregards and tramples all over his people in the open and unashamed.

    Not like the slimy Cameron, who's a back door dealer, looking after his mates whilst saying he actually cares about us.

    Give me an honest man over a liar any day.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 279.

    Any 'irregularities' (don't you just love that very inoffensive word?) when voting in a so-called democracy should be given their true titles - fiddling, manipulation, harrassment, etc.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 278.

    If only Zimbabwe had natural resources that the world wanted, then this despot would have been dealt with long ago!

 

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