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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Crisis Report - Issue 214
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
    August 23, 2013

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    Robert Mugabe: New President, old record

    President-elect Robert Mugabe accepted his new mandate for a five-year term of office before Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku who swore him in at the National Sports Stadium on Thursday, August 22, 2013 at a ceremony characterized by pomp and fanfare.

    The event mirrored his Prime Ministerial inauguration in 1980, or perhaps surpassed it given that the menu included fast food meals that were dished out to people as part of the festivities.

    Zanu-PF Deputy Director of Information Psychology Maziwisa has been cited in the press stating that the celebrations had been stage managed to mirror Mugabe’s inauguration 33 years ago and to many observers the president’s speech yesterday had similarities to his 1980 inaugural speech.

    “We have sought the political kingdom, we have found it.

    “I stand before you as now a sworn President of Zimbabwe.

    “My mandate comes from the just ended election which my party won resoundingly.

    “As we move into the future, our work as a nation is cut out for us.

    “Let me share with you my vision for the future, lay out for you the work that must be done,” 89-year-old Mugabe said.

    In 1980 President Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF won the elections with a similarly definitive landslide as his latest ostensible victory of 61.09% in the July 31 election and in both instances Mugabe has sought to placate his political foes with conciliatory speeches.

    In his 1980 “ploughshares” speech he told a country rising from the ashes of war “I cannot avoid the love that binds me to you and you to me” which resonated with his Thursday address at the National Sports Stadium made after a protracted fight with opposition parties, and, like in 1980, the reality of a negotiated new constitution.

    “We worked together. Initially compelled by GPA protocols, we eventually found each other and proceeded to produce the current Constitution.

    “This is our land, our country together and for as long as our nations subsist, so will elections and the opportunities they offer.

    “Our common destiny bids us to work together, never at cross purposes.

    “More important, that destiny bids us to work for the well-being and in defense of our people who must always come first,” Mugabe told his erstwhile GNU partners, former Prime Minister (PM) Morgan Tsvangirai, former Deputy PM Arthur Mutambara and Welshman Ncube, whom he said he owed “nothing but praise and respect”.

    However, people remain wary of Mugabe’s conciliatory messages given that he made overtures of reconciliation with whites beyond the first five years of independence, yet simultaneously pursued his black enemies in the opposition nationalist movement the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) with whom he later signed a unity accord in 1987.

    Two decades later he would break ranks with his policy of racial reconciliation as his supporters violently invaded land owned by whites in some cases killing them around 2000.

    But, unlike in 1980 where reconciliation, peace and stability seemed to be Mugabe’s main challenge, there are further questions about whether there is any new thing he could offer with his seventh presidential term after over three decades in power.

    Ibbo Mandaza, an academic, political analyst and former government technocrat who served in the first post-independence administration in the Ministry of Labour and Manpower Planning, but a critic of the July 31 election process said, “I find the euphoria misplaced” in reference to the big bash held for Mugabe’s inauguration.

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