By Professor Matodzi
Harare, August 12, 2013 – Zimbabwe’s controversially elected leader Robert Mugabe on Monday acknowledged that Zimbabweans were highly literate in Africa lending credence to an election petition filed last week by MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai alleging manipulation of voters and the poll results in favour of the octogenarian leader.
On Friday, Tsvangirai challenged the election results in which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) declared Mugabe as the winner with 61 percent of the vote while the former trade union leader garnered 33 percent.
In his election petition, Tsvangirai demanded that the electoral authorities hand over to him registers of assisted voters at all polling stations, where people cast their votes during the elections. He alleged that the high number of assisted voters were forced to feign illiteracy and other excuses so that they could be assisted by some Zanu PF officials to cast their votes in favour of President Mugabe’s party even though they supported his MDC-T party.
The MDC-T leader also demanded unlimited access to all the presidential election materials used in the harmonised elections held on July 31 and to be furnished with the full set of presidential results per constituency, copies of the voters’ roll used in all the polling stations including the one used in the special voting process held in mid-July.
In an address to mark Heroes Day, held annually in the month of August in honour of the country’s fallen liberation war heroes, Mugabe admitted and boasted that Zimbabwe had a high number of literate citizens owing to his government’s commitment of resources in the education sector.
“At 90.7 percent, Zimbabwe has the highest literacy rate and this is a result of the government’s investment in the education,” said Mugabe, whose address lasted about 50 minutes.
Already, Botswana has demanded an audit of the vote and indicated that the alleged electoral fraud, which gave Mugabe an election victory will be a subject for discussion at this week’s SADC summit scheduled for Malawi.
In a direct response to the MDC-T election petition, Mugabe said his critics can take their own life if they were not happy with his election victory.
“Those pained by the electoral defeat should consider committing suicide. They can go and hang if they don’t want to stomach the election defeat. Even dogs won’t bother eating their dead bodies,” said Mugabe, who punctuated his speech by raising his clenched fist and chanting “pamberi nekubatana, pamberi nekuhwina maelections.”
The octogenarian leader repeated his rhetoric against western governments whom he blamed for resourcing non-governmental organisations in 2008, when he lost the first round of presidential elections to Tsvangirai, in a bid to effect regime change.
The Zanu PF leader pledged to review salaries for the poorly paid civil servants and to improve the welfare of dependents of liberation war heroes and heroines, who have been neglected by his government for years now.
Mugabe’s supporters largely drawn from his Zanu PF party also carried banners at the Heroes Acre denouncing election watchdog, Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), which denounced last month’s election as not credible and having been plagues by serious irregularities.
One of the banners read, “Is ZESN larger than SADC, Au and Third World?”