Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is sworn in during his inauguration, in Harare, yesterday.
HARARE: Africa’s oldest ruler Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe hit out at “vile” Western critics as he was sworn in for another five-year term yesterday in a stadium packed with jubilant supporters.
Festooned in a sash, garland and medals, the 89-year-old dismissed accusations the July 31 election that returned him to power was rigged and vowed to rejuvenate the foreign-dominated banking and mining sectors.
The ceremony was boycotted by opposition leader and former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who condemned the election as “a farce” and “a massive fraud” and demanded a forensic audit of the results.
Mugabe lambasted Western countries, which have also questioned the legitimacy of his election victory.
“We dismiss them as the vile ones whose moral turpitude we must mourn,” he said, venting against Britain, Australia, Canada and the US.
Unlike previous low-key investitures, yesterday’s event — replete with banners, flags and chants — carried strong echoes of Mugabe’s inauguration as prime minister of a newly independent Zimbabwe in 1980.
A no-show by many leaders from neighbouring countries — including President Jacob Zuma of regional power-broker South Africa — did little to dampen enthusiasm.
“I promise you better conditions,” he told the 60,000 capacity crowd of supporters at a stadium in Harare.
“The mining sector will be the centrepiece of our economic recovery and growth. It should generate growth spurts across the sector, reignite that economic miracle which must now happen.”
The inauguration had been delayed after Tsvangirai challenged the poll results in a petition to the Constitutional Court that was later withdrawn.
Mugabe’s 33-year rule since Zimbabwe’s independence has been marked by a drive to transfer foreign-owned and white-owned assets, including farms, to blacks.
His inner circle has faced decades of international sanctions over rights abuses, and the leader said he expected the punitive measures to continue.
“Most likely we shall remain under these sanctions for much longer.”
“We continue to look East,” Mugabe said about the search for investors. AFP