President Robert Mugabe has hailed his re-election in Zimbabwe as a victory over the “British and their allies”.
Delivering his first speech since winning a poll that his critics believe was rigged, Mr Mugabe, 89, reverted to his familiar rhetoric. Ever since the Morgan Tsvangirai, his leading opponent, formed the Movement for Democratic Change 14 years ago, Mr Mugabe has accused them of being puppets of the British, dedicated to returning Zimbabwe to colonial rule.
Addressing the Politburo of the ruling Zanu-PF party on Thursday, Mr Mugabe repeated this familiar theme. “Tsvangirai is a mere part of the enemy,” he said. “The enemy is he who is behind Tsvangirai: the British and their allies. Those are the ones who were the real enemies–those whom we have knocked down.”
Mr Tsvangirai is expected to file a legal challenge on Friday, urging the constitutional court to overturn Mr Mugabe’s victory and order a re-run. However, all the judges were appointed by the president and the chances of this challenge succeeding are minimal.
Mr Mugabe noted that the African Union endorsed the election as “credible” and “honest”, while Britain, America, Australia and Canada had all questioned its fairness. This, he argued, proved his claim that he was standing firm against imperial powers.”Even as the whole of Africa is sending us messages of congratulations, they [the British and their allies] say the elections were not free. And where are they talking? London and Washington Canberra and Ottawa,” he said.
Mr Mugabe promised to press on with his policy of “indigenisation”, which means handing most of the shares of foreign or white-owned companies to black Zimbabweans. “Our task is to look ahead. What we say we shall do, we will do,” he said.
But Ibbo Mandaza, a leading commentator, noted that Mr Mugabe’s statement was “repetitive rhetoric”, adding that the president “does not believe what he says. He has never been a revolutionary leader, he is a conservative. He just says what he says because people expect it.”
Mr Mandaza said the regime was already “engaging with the West,” because it would soon need food aid to keep Zimbabwe afloat and help with paying civil service salaries. As soon as the official result showed that Zanu-PF had won a two thirds majority in parliament, giving it the power to change the new constitution, Mr Mandaza said it became clear that “blatant” vote rigging had taken place. He said the manipulation had gone so far that even some figures in Zanu-PF were shocked.
One Zanu-PF leader, who declined to be named, said he was “cringing” at Mr Mugabe’s anti-Western rhetoric.
Most Zimbabweans, including the MDC, expect the partisan constitutional court to dismiss Mr Tsvangirai’s challenge to the election. Mr Mugabe will then be formally sworn in for another five-year term in about two weeks.