Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe told critics of his disputed re-election to “go hang” on Monday, dismissing his rivals as “Western-sponsored stooges” at a liberation war commemoration that was boycotted by his principal challenger.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of Mugabe’s rival Morgan Tsvangirai filed a court challenge on Friday against the announced landslide win of Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party in the July 31 vote, alleging widespread rigging and intimidation.
Western governments, especially the United States, have also questioned the credibility of the election outcome, which extends by five more years the 33-year rule of Mugabe, who at 89 is Africa’s oldest leader. In contrast, observers from African diplomatic bodies broadly approved the Zimbabwe election.
“We fought gallantly in this election, and we won so overwhelmingly that some people are hurting badly,” Mugabe told a rally to mark Heroes Day, an annual celebration of those who fought to liberate Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, from white minority rule, leading to its independence in 1980.
“If they cannot stomach it, they can go and hang,” Mugabe said.
Tsvangirai’s MDC, which calls the July 31 vote a “monumental fraud”, boycotted the rally at the National Heroes’ Acre shrine, saying it did not want to associate with “election thieves”.
Zimbabwe’s constitution says the country’s top court must rule within 14 days on the MDC challenge to the presidential election result. Analysts predict the MDC legal challenge is unlikely to prosper because they say Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party dominates the judiciary and state institutions.