SOLYMONE BLOG

‘ZIMBABWE IS MINE’ SAY ROBERT MUGABE

President Robert Mugabe declared on Friday that "Zimbabwe is mine" and vowed never to surrender to calls to step down, as his political rival threatened to quit stalled unity government talks.

Addressing his ZANU-PF party's annual conference amid a ruinous political crisis and a deadly cholera epidemic, Mugabe returned to the kind of defiance he has often shown in the face of mounting criticism. "I will never, never, never, never surrender. Zimbabwe is mine, I am a Zimbabwean. Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans. Zimbabwe never for the British, Britain for the British," Mugabe told his party's annual conference.

The veteran leader in the former British colony said he would remain until "his people decided to change him." While the comments struck a familiar tone for the 84-year-old leader – he said earlier this year that only God could remove him from office – he now faces increasingly grim circumstances in his crippled country.

The UN says more than 1,100 people have died in the cholera epidemic, adding to woes such as food shortages and poverty as Zimbabwe struggles with a collapsed economy and eye-popping inflation rates. Mugabe denounced Western governments who have been stepping up their criticism of his regime since the cholera outbreak.

He said Zimbabwe was facing a war with Britain, supported by the United States and Europe. "I won't be intimidated. Even if I am threatened with beheading, I believe this and nothing will ever move me from it: Zimbabwe belongs to us, not the British." Washington said Mugabe had got it wrong. "Well, last time the world checked, Zimbabwe belonged to the people of Zimbabwe," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters when asked to comment on Mugabe's claim.

"Again, it's a statement that I think sums up in a concise way what is at the root of Zimbabwe's problems," McCormack said."He thinks that the state of Zimbabwe and the people of Zimbabwe are there only to serve his interest. It's the other way around – or it should be the other way around," he added.

Mean while Cholera patients in Zimbabwe have been dying of thirst in a government clinic as bodies pile up around them. "Dead people were lying everywhere," said Luis Maria Tello, MSF's medical co-ordinator in Chegutu, which has one of the highest cholera fatality rates in the country. "The situation was absolute chaos. There were no beds and patients everywhere. People were dying of thirst because there was no water."

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