PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe declared Wednesday that African leaders had endorsed his re-election and were awaiting confirmation his inauguration as he rejected Western criticism of his landslide victory in last week’s elections.
Speaking publicly for the first time after emphatically trouncing long-time rival and outgoing premier Morgan Tsvangirai to extend his 33-year rule by another five years, Mugabe said the election outcome was a blow to critics in the West.
“We are happy that we have dealt the enemy a blow and the enemy is not Tsvangirai,” Mugabe told a meeting of Zanu PF politburo at the party’s Harare head office.
“Tsvangirai is a mere part of the enemy. The enemy is he who is behind Tsvangirai, who is behind the MDC, the British and their allies. Those are the ones who were the real enemies; those whom we have knocked down.”
Mugabe has blamed the West for Zimbabwe’s economic problems after the EU, the US as well as Australia and Canada imposed sanctions about a decade ago to punish alleged vote fraud and human rights failings.
Ahead of last week’s vote, the EU and Australia had suspended the sanctions to reward reforms that included a new constitution as well as encourage a free and fair ballot.
And blocked from observing the key vote by Mugabe, western countries said they would be guided by the verdict of the African Union and the regional SADC grouping, and offered to lift the sanctions if the AU and SADC cleared elections.
Regional observers subsequently endorsed the vote as “free and peaceful” but the West, apparently taking their cue from Tsvangirai who rejected the election as a monumental fraud, also refused to endorse the ballot.
The US said the election was not credible while the UK expressed “grave concern” and Australia called for a re-run in developments that cast doubt on prospects the debilitating sanctions would be lifted.
Clearly not amused, Mugabe accused the West of dishonesty, saying they were now going back on pledges to be guided by the verdict of African and regional observers.
“Now even as the whole of Africa is sending us messages of congratulations to say well done, they say the elections were not free. And where are they talking from? London, Washington, Canberra and Ottawa,” he said.
“They (Western countries) are quite a strange people. To them principles do not matter, even pledges do not mean anything . . . they are never honest. To tell the truth, you do not understand what animals these are. You can never rely on their words. Never ever!
“Of course, with them elections would have been free and fair if the MDC had won. But because it is Zanu PF, Robert Mugabe heading the party, no. Because it is regime change they are aiming for.”
He said several African leaders had phoned to congratulate him on his victory and indicated they would attend his inauguration in a show of defiance to the West.
“Africa is saying tell us the day of the inauguration we want to come. (Ugandan President Yoweri) Museveni has been phoning. They want to come for the inauguration and demonstrate solidarity,” he said.
“We thank them for the solidarity they have given us. We assure them of our own friendship and our own solidarity in return. We remain true to the ideals of co-operation. The insane men of London, Washington and Ottawa, those we leave to the gods.
Regional powerhouse, South Africa, and most of Zimbabwe’s neighbours have endorsed the elections with the exception of Botswana which demanded an audit of the ballot, a position dismissed as “thoroughly stupid” by Zanu PF.
Mugabe said he was not losing sleep over Botswana’s reservations.
“We understand next door we also have a country that will not step with the rest of Africa. This we should not worry much about it,” he said.
Tsvangirai has vowed to challenge his defeat in the courts and, under the country’s new constitution, has seven days to do so.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa explained: “Section 93 of the Constitution gives seven days after the announcement of the results as the period within which anyone who wants to challenge the validity of results has to mount their challenge with the Constitutional Court.
“However, if there is a challenge lodged with the Constitutional Court, the court has 14 days to determine the case and if it is thrown away then the President would be sworn in within 48 hours from the determination of that challenge.”
Mugabe added: “Whether they (MDC-T) go to court or not thereafter we can have our inauguration.
“Fourteen days is what is given as the time, thereafter we can look at the day in which our inauguration can take place and so we should have the patience to wait.
“I cannot say what’s happening in the MDC camp. There is all confusion and talking this, talking that, all rubbish . . . thinking that things which are impossible are possible. Wishes never are horses. So we had to wait but we are very happy that we have defeated the enemy.”