Robert Mugabe tells opponents who dispute Zimbabwe election results to 'go hang... commit suicide'

President dismisses Movement for Democratic Change as Western stooges

Hitting back at the furore over his disputed victory in last month’s elections, Robert Mugabe launched a new tirade against his opponents, telling them to “go hang”.

In his first public speech since the 31 July elections, the 89-year-old Mr Mugabe taunted his defeated rival Morgan Tsvangirai, who is currently launching a court challenge to what he describes as a “fraudulent and stolen” vote. Mr Mugabe dismissed Mr Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) as “pathetic puppets” and “Western stooges”.

Mr Mugabe was speaking at a national shrine outside Harare at the annual Heroes’ Day rally to honour heroes of the country’s liberation wars. The MDC boycotted the event in protest at the contested vote. The President did not name Mr Tsvangirai directly during his hour-long speech, but his opponent was clearly the target of some choice invective. “Those who lost elections may commit suicide if they so wish. Even if they die, dogs will not eat their flesh,” Mr Mugabe said.

Mr Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, won 61 per cent of the presidential vote while Mr Tsvangirai only received 35 per cent, according to official results – a remarkable score, given Mr Tsvangirai’s 48 per cent to 43 per cent lead in the first round of the March 2008 presidential elections. Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party also secured a hefty parliamentary majority of more than two-thirds, winning 160 of the 210 seats. However, non-governmental organisations say the vote was rigged through a variety of schemes, the most effective being the fiddling the electoral rolls with an estimated one million invalid names. The election has also elicited fierce condemnation from the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom.

But Mr Mugabe insisted the result reflected popular opinion. “We are delivering democracy on a platter. We say, ‘Take it or leave it’, but the people have delivered democracy,” he said.

As Prime Minister for the past four years, Mr Tsvangirai has led an awkward unity government including ministers from both the MDC and Zanu-PF. But Mr Mugabe was scathing about the administration, saying that it was riddled with corruption. “We have thrown the enemy away like garbage. They say we have rigged, but they are thieves. We say to them: ‘You are never going to rise again’.”

Despite what he called “the major betrayal of our inalienable right to vote for which so many people died”, Mr Tsvangirai appealed for calm yesterday. “We have just come from a disputed and stolen election and the majority of Zimbabweans are still shocked at the brazen manner in which their vote was stolen,” he said. “There is no national celebration and all I can see is a nation in mourning over the audacity of so few to steal from so many.”

The MDC’s legal challenge, filed last Friday, calls for the result to be declared null and void and a new election to be called within 60 days. It lists 15 alleged poll failings, including alleged bribery, abuse of “assisted voting” and manipulation of the electoral roll.

The suit is not expected to overturn the final result: even Mr Tsvangirai has acknowledged that the nine-member Constitutional Court, packed with Mugabe appointees, is unlikely to take a position against the President. But the hearing could still reveal some of the electoral practices that secured Mr Mugabe his victory. 

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, an independent NGO, has already said that about one million voters were “systematically disenfranchised” by being struck from the voters’ roll or turned away at the polling booth. And since the election, two commissioners have resigned from the nine-member Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, which oversaw the poll, citing irregularities in the vote.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
Life and Style
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Website Editor

£15 - £17 Per Hour: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently r...

Primary Teachers needed for supply in Ipswich

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: We are looking to rec...

Primary Supply teaching jobs in Stowmarket

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

Year 1 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: The Job An inner city Birmingham sc...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments