Notorious for his undaunted leadership, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe warned British and U.S. firms that he would retaliate against them for imposing sanctions on his rule.
At a funeral on Sunday, the newly sworn in leader denounced his Western critics for questioning his re-election, which faced extensive criticism from his rival Morgan Tsvangirai who claimed the election was widely rigged.
“They should not continue to harass us, the British and Americans,” he told supporters.
“We have not done anything to their companies here, the British have several companies in this country, and we have not imposed any controls, any sanctions against them, but time will come when we will say, well, tit for tat. You hit me, I hit you.”
Last week, Britain declared that an independent investigation into vote-rigging allegations would be required to determine the legitimacy of Mugabe’s presidency.
The U.S. also reinforced their ongoing financial and travel sanctions after the regional 15-nation Southern African Development and Community and the African Union vouched for the lawfulness of Mugabe’s rule.
Meanwhile, the United Nations’ world tourism body seems to feel differently about Zimbabwe, having chosen the country to lead its Commission for Africa, the continent-wide group for tourism development for the next two-years.
The 155-nation organization’s summit will be held at the resort of Victoria Falls where Zimbabwe meets Zambia.
The U.N.’s decision to give Zimbabwe co-host status was criticized as a “disgraceful show of support and a terribly timed award of false legitimacy” for Mugabe’s authoritarian rule, by the independent U.N. Watch human rights group on Friday.
“Amid reports of election rigging and continuing human rights abuses, Zimbabwe is the last country that should be legitimized by a U.N. summit of any kind,” said Hillel Neuer, head of the Geneva-based group founded to monitor adherence by the world body to its universal charter on democracy and human rights.
He said Mugabe’s propagandists sought to gloss over the collapse of the economy, years of political turmoil and the persecution of opponents to “use the event to rebrand the postelection period.”
“The notion that the U.N. should spin this country as a lovely tourist destination is, frankly, sickening,” Neuer said.
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