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Thousands celebrate Mugabe's victory

People may scream and shout about how credible Zimbabwe's election was, but the country and the world will move on.
Last modified: 22 Aug 2013 19:17

I remember President Robert Mugabe's last inauguration in 2008 - right after the disputed election.

It was at State House in Harare and the ceremony was very rushed. I remember feeling very tired and worried about the future of Zimbabwe. Things were very tense back then.

Mugabe later had to share power with his rival opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, after regional leaders intervened and negotiated a power-sharing deal because the 2008 elections were disputed and marred by violence and allegations of vote-rigging. The unity government stabilised things somewhat for a few years. But there was a feeling among some people that Mugabe had lost his grip on power and he was weak.

Fast forward to the year 2013, and the venue is now the 60,000-seat National Sports Stadium in the capital Harare. It is packed with people. The mood is different, jovial, thousands of people singing and dancing.

Current and former African presidents have flown in, well-known musicians from across Africa are here to perform, and thousands of people here to see Mugabe being sworn in for a seventh term are looking forward to the free meal of chicken and chips they have been promised by officials.

When Mugabe finally walks into the stadium the crowd cheers him on. He was his usual self, and at even 89 years old, he seemed to have a certain spring in his step. He did not have to say it, but it seemed he was basking in the glory of being firmly back in power.

Tsvangirai's MDC party did badly during the polls. The power-sharing agreement is now no more.

In his acceptance speech, Mugabe was happy but relieved. He criticised western countries questioning his legitimacy. "Today it is Britain and her dominion, Australia and Canada, who dare tell us our elections were not credible. Who are they to say so, who are they to ask?"

The UK wants an independent investigation into the election results, saying the polls were not credible. The US won't lift sanctions, and the European Union says it is concerned about allegations of vote-rigging and will review its relationship with Zimbabwe. But most African governments have congratulated Mugabe.

It seems that's it. People may scream and shout about how credible Zimbabwe's election was, but the country and the world will move on.

Zimbabweans are concerned about the economy more than aything else. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party must now move away from liberation politics to issues more relevant to people today. 

Political analyst Takura Zhangazha says: "They have to be more serious about their politics concerning governing. The biggest challenge they face is one of performance and legitimacy. They have to fix the economy, they have to fix unemployment, they have to get Zimbabwe back and interacting with the international community."

Mugabe served as Zimbabwe's first post-independence prime minister between 1980 and 1987. He's held the office as president ever since. He is the only Zimbabwean leader I have ever known.

People who came to the stadium were given their free chicken for lunch - I am not sure who paid for it - but it was well received by many at the stadium.

Some people are happy Mugabe's still president; others aren't. All people can do now is wait and see if Zimbabwe moves forwards or backwards.