Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe took a new oath of office today, blasting western governments that questioned his 61 percent victory in the July 31 presidential elections and thanking opposition party leader Morgan Tsvangirai for helping craft a new governance charter, according to a report on RadioVOPZimbabwe.
Attending the swearing-in were members of the Apostolic Church, Zanu PF party supporters and heads of state including Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and Equatorial Guinea President Theodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. Others included former South African President Thabo Mbeki, and former Tanzanian presidents Ali Hassan Mwinyi and Benjamin Mkapa.
Mugabe singled out Britain, U.S., Australia and Canada for their assessment that the elections were not free and fair.
“We will not bow to any foreign government,” Mugabe said. “We cannot be bought. We belong to Africa. Who are they? Who gave them a gift of seeing better than us?”
Mugabe heaped praises on the Southern African Development Community and the African Union for helping political dialogue between his Zanu PF party (Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front) and the MDC-T party (Movement for Democratic Change Tsvangirai). This dialogue culminated in the formation of a rickety coalition government which slightly eased the country’s agonizing economic crisis, the report said.
Weeks after the July 31 election, Mugabe was named deputy chairman of the Southern African Development Community, a 15-country inter-governmental organization headquartered in Gaborone, Botswana. Mugabe was commended “for the peaceful manner in which the elections were conducted,” according to a report in AllAfrica.
SADC members include Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Mugabe said his soon-to-be-named new government will focus on rebuilding the country’s battered state through implementing an indigenization and economic empowerment plan and exploiting the Zimbabwe’s rich mineral deposits. He promised to fulfill his party’s election campaign promises by raising government worker salaries improving social services.
“The mining sector will be the centerpiece of our economic recovery and growth,” he said. “We need to intensify the exploitation of our mineral deposits.”
Local election observers and western governments angered Mugabe and his Zanu PF party after condemning the election results as unfair and incredible. Several of Tsvangirai’s parliamentary candidates have flooded the courts with petitions challenging their defeat, the report said.