Published : 2013-08-22 19:53
Updated : 2013-08-22 19:53
HARARE (AFP) ― Zimbabwe’s veteran leader Robert Mugabe will be sworn in for a new five-year term Thursday in a massive stadium inauguration that will be boycotted by his election rival.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai insists the July 31 vote that returned the 89-year-old to power was rigged and will shun the swearing-in.
The event will take place at the country’s largest 60,000-seater sports stadium and around 40 leaders have been invited.
“It’s going to be a grand occasion, no doubt about that,” said Simon Khaya-Moyo, chairman of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party.
A constitutional court ruling confirmed Mugabe as president and declared the elections “free, fair and credible” and that the results “reflected the free will of the people of Zimbabwe.”
But Tsvangirai’s spokesman said the opposition leader “can’t attend a robber‘s party.”
“Expecting Tsvangirai to attend the inauguration is like expecting a victim of robbery to attend a party hosted by the robber,” Tsvangirai’s spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka said.
The inauguration had been delayed after Tsvangirai challenged the poll results in a petition to the constitutional court.
“We are excited about the inauguration ceremony,” Rugare Gumbo, spokesman for ZANU-PF, said.
“Our win represents the defeat of neo-colonialism and tomorrow we are celebrating not only President Mugabe‘s inauguration but the victory of Zimbabwe, Africa and progressive forces across the world.”
Unlike previous investitures which were low-key, the ceremony promises to be high-profile in what is seen as a show of power designed to confer legitimacy amid persistent questions around the vote which extended Mugabe’s 33-year grip on power.
The organizers said the event would be similar to Mugabe’s inauguration as prime minister in 1980.