With one day to go, Mugabe promises to go if he loses election
By Don Gwara in Harare for FFZE:
“We have never done it (cheating) before. We are not going to elections for the first time, we have had elections before, democratic elections,” Mr Mugabe said.
“The West might not have accepted them as democratic but our own people, they know we have done no cheating, never ever,” he told reporters.
“I don’t control the electoral process. I comply with the electoral law and I move in accordance with the demands of the electoral process. I am very obedient. I am a lawyer myself. I am also a person who believes in order.”
Mr Mugabe’s was speaking at his last press conference before Wednesday’s poll, widely seen as a last chance both for him, at 89 years old, and his rival for the presidency, Morgan Tsvangirai who leads the MDC-T party. Mr Tsvangirai, 61, is going up against Mr Mugabe for the third time and is unlikely to gain his party’s support for another attempt.
The election has been plagued with logistical and organisation problems that many observers believe have replaced violence as a Mugabe tactic to ensure his ZANU-PF party prevails. Partisan security services have pledged loyalty to him, and even provided protection at ZANU-PF rallies across the country.
Mr Mugabe said, however, that concerns about military intervention to ensure he remains in power were unfounded. Statements by army generals that they will not support a leader without liberation war credentials — a clear reference to Mr Tsvangirai — did not reflect the official position, he said.
“You are putting it as if all generals say so. If one or two say so it’s just those one or two, they are not the army. And they are not the authority anyway, that was their own view,” the president said.
“They (soldiers) are law-abiding people, very law-abiding. It’s military discipline that they obey, not the discipline you and I are used to.”
Mr Mugabe said his chances of winning Wednesday’s vote are as high as they were when he became the country’s leader at independence.
“Our chances are as good as the chances we had in 1980. It’s a comeback, the people have realised that they had lost direction and they are back,” he said. “I think we will have outright results, I don’t think we will have that same result” as in 2008 when an inconclusive outcome forced ZANU-PF into a coalition with MDC-T and the smaller MDC.
He said that despite having little regard for the opinion of the European Union or the United States, which have imposed sanctions in retaliation for human rights abuses, he declared Zimbabwe “friendly,” especially towards Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles.
One of the chief issues for Zimbabweans in this election is mismanagement of the economy. Unemployment is astronomical and industry has been driven into non-existence. Millions of Zimbabweans have fled abroad, millions more at home rely on food handouts.
Having said he would accept the result of the election “win or lose,” Mr Mugabe was asked what he would do with his time if he had to retire.
“You are asking a man who is 89 years old about how to spend his time. I am an educationist; I am an economist; I am a politician; I am also now a good storyteller, you know. I could spent my time telling stories or writing them.”