Embattled Robert Mugabe has come out fighting over accusations of vote rigging that have variously been levelled against him and his Zanu PF government by political opponents ahead of crucial elections on Saturday.
from our correspondent in Harare
As has now become routine during his campaign rallies, the 84-year-old leader, who faces the stiffest challenge to his 28-year old rule, again vowed to crush mass protests, should any arise following a possible defeat by the opposition.
He said the opposition Movement for Democratic Change was fond of telling lies about his government to justify its electoral defeats.
“You must be prepared to lose,” Mugabe told a handful of his remaining
supporters during his campaign in Nyanga on Wednesday.
“If Zanu wins you must accept it. If you win we will accept, we have accepted it all along while you have been winning in towns, we have never refused. There was never an occasion where we said you did not win.
“But you are fond of telling lies, telling lies such as, ‘They have been
rigging’ he roared.
He added that the MDC brought the language of rigging into Zimbabwean politics.
“There was no language of rigging in this country until the MDC and we know these are the lies they borrow from their masters.”
The veteran leader accused Britain and America of being the authors of
allegations of rigging, arguing the word never existed in the Zimbabwean electoral language.
“Their masters now are saying the elections will not be free and fair. The damn liars, devilish liars they are. They never tell the truth. Never the truth at Number 10 Downing Street; never the truth in Washington. Never ever, they think our people don’t comprehend things. They think our people do not judge them,” Mugabe fumed.
“We have learnt to judge them also. They are liars, damn liars. The whole lot of them,” he said.
“They want to prepare the world to accept their lies that the elections, if we win, will not have been free and fair. But we will go ahead, we will say, ‘Go hang’ and you go hang. We will continue to rule the country what ever happens” he rumbled on.
But despite all his ranting there is overwhelming evidence on the ground that he is not willing to grant his opponents an equal opportunity to run for the highest office.
Just last week, Mugabe revoked a section within the electoral law which barred members of the police, generally perceived to be partisan in his favour, from entering polling stations to assist incapacitated voters.
No explanation has since been proffered to justify the controversial decision, one of the key concessions struck between his party and the opposition during last year’s inter-party negotiations monitored by SADC.
Mugabe has systematically barred the opposition from disseminating their election campaigns through the public media as recommended by the SADC guidelines governing the holding of free and fair elections.
This is apart from barring the opposition until very recently from holding
Mugabe threatened to crush any Kenya-style protests by the opposition in the event of his government winning.
“We hear some of you, Job Sikhala for instance, threatening that if Zanu-PF wins ‘we will resort to the Kenya option’”, Mugabe said.
“Dare you do that and you will regret it. You dare do that. We are not joking. You will regret if you dare do it.”
Sikhala is an official of the breakaway faction of the MDC led by Prof Arthur Mutambara.
Mugabe, who has ruled the ex-British colony since 1980, has been ostracised by the West after allegedly rigging his 2002 re-election and for assaults by his security service on opposition leaders such as Tsvangirai.
Through much of Africa, however, Mugabe is still revered for his role in
bringing an end to the former whites-only regime of Ian Smith as head of the Zanu (Zimbabwe African National Union) guerrilla movement.
As well as a challenge from Tsvangirai, Mugabe is also being taken on by his former finance minister Simba Makoni, who broke ranks with Zanu-PF last month.