Mugabe lashes out at 'insane' Washington
19 July 2013, 09:17
Chinhoyi - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe branded the United
States "absolutely insane" on Thursday for voicing concerns about a 31
July election, although neighbouring South Africa joined Washington in
criticising chaotic preparations for the vote.
thousands of supporters in Chinhoyi, 115km northwest of Harare, the
89-year-old also rejected calls for reform of partisan security forces,
saying his main rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, could make
changes if he won.
"In America they are saying Zimbabwe has gone
for an early election without reforms. Americans must be mad and
absolutely insane," Mugabe said in an address that last more than 2-1/2
hours, confounding speculation his health is failing.
is meant to end five years of fractious unity government under a deal
brokered by regional power South Africa following violent and disputed
polls in 2008 but with its credibility already being questioned, those
hopes are waning.
The United States said this week it was deeply
concerned by a lack of transparency, suggesting Washington was in no
mood to ease sanctions against a victorious Mugabe even if he wins
Tellingly, it is not just Mugabe's long-time
foes in the West rounding on the continent's oldest head of state, who
has run the southern African nation since independence from Britain in
In unusually strong criticism, South African President
Jacob Zuma's top Zimbabwe expert, Lindiwe Zulu, said Zuma had
telephoned Mugabe to tell him he was "not pleased" with the run-up to
"We are concerned because things on the ground are not looking good," Zulu told Reuters.
Africa wants to avoid a repeat of the 2008 violence, which brought a
flood of refugees into the country and added a further burden on
stretched state finances.
Mugabe called the election on 31 July in
compliance with a Constitutional Court order but the move was
criticised by his opponents and Pretoria as too soon to allow proper
SA envoy stupid
Zulu's comments are
likely to infuriate Mugabe, who labelled her "stupid and idiotic" at a
rally this month after she called for a delay of a few weeks to ensure
the process runs as smoothly as possible.
Advance voting for 70
000 police officers and soldiers on Sunday and Monday compounded fears
of a chaotic poll, raising the prospect of a disputed result and civil
unrest in a country with a history of election violence.
special voting, long lines formed at polling stations and some people
were unable to vote because ballot papers did not turn up at all - one
of several logistical challenges acknowledged by the Election
Pretoria's verdict on the quality of the vote has
added significance because election observers from the European Union
and United States are barred from entering Zimbabwe.
been no formal opinion polls but most analysts see Mugabe's Zanu-PF as
the favourite given its monopoly of state media and the problems with
voter registration encountered by many young, urban Zimbabweans -
Tsvangirai's support base.
Britain has also said its misgivings
about the election justified maintaining European Union sanctions
imposed more than a decade ago for suspected vote-rigging and human
"We are concerned that a number of important
electoral and other important democratic reforms have not been
completed," a Foreign Office spokesperson said.
remain in place, Zimbabwe has no chance of rescheduling billions of
dollars of defaulted World Bank and IMF debt, leaving it unable to
access the multilateral credit needed to rebuild its economy.
former Africa minister, Peter Hain, said Mugabe's methods had changed
from 2008, when at least 200 people, almost all of them Tsvangirai
supporters, were killed, but that the entrenched president's disdain
for a free and fair vote had not.
"In the past, he's relied more
on brute force and violence. This time it's all sorts of double-deeds,"
Hain told Reuters. "It will be very hard for sanctions to be lifted if
the outcome is as it looks to be - namely an election by bribery and