by Lewis Machipisa
(IPS) HARARE --
week's refusal by Washington to recognize the government of Zimbabwe, citing electoral fraud in its March presidential elections, has not gone down well with president Robert Mugabe.
Walter Kansteiner, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, said Tuesday Washington did not see President Mugabe as the democratically legitimate leader of Zimbabwe.
"We do not see President Mugabe as the democratically legitimate leader of the country. The election was fraudulent," he said.
But Mugabe and his senior officials are not amused.
"We are not made as a government in Washington. Let Mr Bush know that. We are made as a government by our people here. Let foolish (British Prime Minister Tony) Blair know that ... and let the people of Australia and New Zealand know that," Mugabe said on state television Thursday night.
The United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand have imposed limited sanctions on Mugabe and his top officials.
Although the United States appears to have backed away from the statements that it is working with Southern African countries to isolate Zimbabwe, officials in Harare have been talking tough.
"The widely-publicized and shockingly scandalous claims by Kansteiner ... have let the cat out of the bag," Jonathan Moyo, Zimbabwe's information minister told the state-run daily, The Herald, on Friday.
"Now we know. As ZANU/PF, we all call on the government to demand a full explanation and get to the bottom of the matter given the seriousness of the claims and their grave implications," added Moyo.
ZANU/PF is the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, led by Mugabe.
South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique have denied involvement in the U.S. plan to remove Mugabe from office.
Kansteiner said his government was "working with other countries in the region as well as throughout the world, on how we can encourage the body politic of Zimbabwe to go forward and correct that situation and start providing an environment that would lead to a free and fair election."
Mugabe, who is seizing white-owned farms to resettle black Zimbabweans, said: Ô'They (western countries) don't want us to be economically independent. They want us to be beggars ... coming to them everyday with a bowl asking for help. No ... we have our resources here. They belong to us and we are taking and giving them to our people."
Zimbabwe has fallen out with the international community over its controversial land-reform program, and over the manner in which President Mugabe's government conducted the March presidential polls.
Mugabe, 78, has ruled Zimbabwe for 22 years.
Zimbabwe's state media has linked the campaigns against its government to attempts by Washington to topple the leadership in Palestine and Iraq.
Zimbabwe's main opposition party, MDC, which has refused to accept the result of the March elections, has lent its full support to the announcement by the U.S. administration.
"We will side with any country or government that takes our position not to recognize the government of President Mugabe. We welcome the U.S. position as it shows that we are on the same side with other democratic countries in the world," said Welshman Ncube, secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Ô'We definitely welcome all those moves, which render the Mugabe regime illegitimate," he added.
George Charamba, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information, said the American move shows that the West is behind the Movement for Democratic Change.
"The puppeteer is now getting impatient with the puppet and is now coming to the fore," Charamba noted.
But Tendai Biti, MDC shadow minister for Foreign Affairs, said the ruling party has itself to blame. He said the government of Mugabe was "working vigorously and tirelessly to isolate itself through bad governance."
MDC has refused to recognize the government of Mugabe and has called on the international community to pressure Harare for fresh elections.
August 25 2002 (http://albionmonitor.net) All Rights Reserved. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to use in any format.
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