HARARE: A defiant Robert Mugabe on Monday told those upset by his disputed landslide election win to “go hang,” declaring that his victory would never be overturned.
The 89-year-old vowed never to let go of his victory, after his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai lodged a petition in court challenging the election outcome.
“Those who were hurt by defeat can go hang if they so wish,” Mugabe told thousands at a rally to honour heroes of the country’s liberation wars.
“If they die, even dogs will not sniff at their corpses,” he said in a punchy first public address after the July 31 vote.
“Never will we go back on our victory.”
Mugabe was declared the winner with 61 per cent of the ballots, against Tsvangirai’s 34 per cent.
He insisted that the Zimbabwean people’s choice in government was clear.
“We are delivering democracy on a platter. We say take it or leave it, but the people have delivered democracy,” he said.
Tsvangirai meanwhile vowed to expose “glaring evidence of the stolen vote” through his court bid.
His lawyers on Friday filed a petition at the constitutional court challenging the poll, which extended Mugabe’s 33-year rule by another five years.
“All I can see is a nation in mourning over the audacity of so few to steal from so many,” Tsvangirai said in a statement.
But “the thief left so much evidence at the scene of crime as we shall expose in the people’s petition that we filed last week.”
The elections ended a shaky power-sharing government formed by Mugabe and Tsvangirai to avoid a tip into conflict in the aftermath of a bloody runoff election in 2008.
Mugabe labelled Tsvangirai a “thief”, claiming that the opposition leader did not deserve to share power with him after the 2008 runoff.
“They are now looking for excuses claiming they were robbed,” Mugabe said. “How can a robber claim he was robbed?”
“We found we were dining with and sharing our bed with thieves. We will never give thieves the power to rule.”
Thousands of ZANU-PF supporters dressed in party T-shirts and caps emblazoned with Mugabe’s portrait waved their fists in the air, singing praise for the veteran ruler as some carried placards calling for Tsvangirai to accept defeat.
“Learn to lose with dignity,” read one, while another read “There is honour in conceding defeat”.
Other placards denounced the West saying: “July 31. The Day we Buried Imperialists” and “Obama, Zimbabwe will never be another Chile.”
Mugabe reiterated his rhetoric, saying that the “emphatic vote…assures that Zimbabwe shall never be a colony again”.
Zimbabwe commemorates Heroes Day every August at the National Heroes Acre, a burial ground in Harare for people who fought or supported the war against colonial rule.
ZANU-PF’s supreme decision making body, the politburo, has the powers to decide who can be buried at the site jointly designed by North Korean and Zimbabwean artists.
At the event Mugabe also pledged to review salaries of government workers.
“We have promised to address the issue of salaries and condition of living. We pledge to fulfil this promise this year,” he said.
Tsvangirai’s defeat has relegated his Movement for Democratic Change back to the opposition benches.
Local observers have called the polls flawed and Western powers have raised serious doubts over the vote.
However, regional organisations the African Union and Southern African Development Community were less critical.