Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe ready to work with 'arrogant' Western countries after controversial election triumph

 

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe says he is ready to re-establish normal relations with the “arrogant” Western countries that have questioned his re-election in a vote his rivals say was fraudulent.

Striking an unusually conciliatory tone, the 89-year-old, who has dismissed Western criticism of his July 31 victory, told parliament his ZANU-PF party would pursue a constructive foreign policy based on cooperation with other countries.

"We indeed stand ready to work even with those who, before, were at odds with us, our detractors," he said, without naming any state, at a pomp-filled opening of parliament.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change boycotted the ceremony in protest at what it has described as "massive fraud".

Mugabe arrived at parliament in a vintage Rolls Royce, flanked by police on horseback, some of the many colonial era-style trappings at odds with the politics of a leader known more for his verbal tirades against the West, especially former imperial power Britain.

However, Mugabe's 40-minute speech was remarkable for its politesse.

He described Western powers as arrogant for keeping sanctions on his ZANU-PF government for the last 13 years over charges of rights abuses and vote rigging, and said his administration would strengthen laws to force foreign-owned firms to surrender majority shares to locals.

However, overall he focused on plans to revive an economy struggling with poverty and unemployment.

Mugabe's victory was endorsed as free by African observers but London and Washington questioned whether it represented the will of the southern African nation's 13 million people and said sanctions against top figures in Harare should stay.

Normal ties with the West would help Zimbabwe's economic recovery from a decade-long slump that ended in 2009 with the scrapping of the worthless Zimbabwe dollar, and to that end Mugabe has been calling for a lifting of sanctions.

He received a boost on Tuesday when the European Union agreed to lift curbs on state mining firm Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).

Despite his radical rhetoric, Mugabe - Africa's oldest leader - has also shown a soft spot for British history and culture, speaking in immaculate "Queen's English", dressing in suits and ties and enjoying tea and cricket in the afternoon.

His respect for tradition was evident in the parliamentary ceremony, which included a guard of honour, a fly-past by military jets and 21-gun salute. He was also invited to address the House by a bewigged speaker, another echo of British political convention.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe