Mugabe breaks silence

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HARARE — Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe yesterday defiantly rejected Western criticism of his disputed re-election and vowed to press ahead with nationalist economic policies transferring majority stakes in foreign-owned firms to blacks.

Reuters

In his first public comments since he was declared winner of a July 31 election that his main rival Zanu PFrejects as fraudulent, Mugabe, Africa’s oldest leader at 89, said Zanu PF’s victory had “dealt the enemy a blow”.

He identified this enemy as “the British and their allies” whom he said had backed Tsvangirai’s MDC-T.

Tsvangirai has said his MDC –T will challenge the election outcome in court, alleging massive vote-rigging and intimidation by Zanu PF.

Addressing Zanu PF’s politburo in Harare, the veteran Zimbabwean President, who has ruled the former Rhodesia since independence in 1980, said Western governments had pledged to consider lifting sanctions if the elections were free and fair.

“But now they, even as the whole of Africa is sending us messages of congratulations to say ‘well done’, say the elections were not free. And where are they talking? London and Washington and Ottawa,” he added.

While election observers from the African Union and the Sadc broadly approved the July 31 presidential and parliamentary elections, the vote has met serious questioning from the West.

The United States, which maintains sanctions against Mugabe, has said it does not believe his re-election was credible.

The European Union, which has been looking at easing sanctions, has also expressed concerns over alleged serious flaws in the vote.

Mugabe, flanked by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and party national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo at the politburo meeting, indicated his critics should not expect any let-up in economic nationalism policies that have also earned Western disapproval.

“All the time we must take into account our policy of indigenisation and empowerment,” he said, referring to policies aimed at increasing black ownership of the economy that have already targeted foreign-owned mining companies and banks.

“Our task is to look ahead. What we say we shall do, we will do,” Mugabe added, looking dapper in a grey suit and a light blue shirt and matching dotted tie.