New Zimbabwe (London)

20 August 2013

Zimbabwe: Mugabe Inauguration a National Holiday

Thursday has been declared a national holiday to allow Zimbabweans to take part in President Robert Mugabe's inauguration with officials expecting up to 80,000 people to attend the main event at the national sports stadium in Harare.

Officials also said several international artists who include a Jamaican star would entertain the crowd in what could be a response to defeated MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai's claim that the whole country was "in mourning" after what he dismissed as a fraudulent election.

Deputy chief secretary to the President and Cabinet, Ray Ndhlukula, told reporters Tuesday that the inauguration day had also been declared a national holiday.

Mugabe confirmed Sunday that he would be inaugurated on Thursday as he returned from a summit of the SADC grouping in Malawi where regional leaders endorsed his re-election in the July 31 vote.

"We have set Thursday as the day for inauguration," he said.

"That's when I will take the oath, which will be followed by a careful consideration of the names of people you voted, the people you saw fit to lead you in parliament. That's where we will pick the ministers."

The inauguration had been delayed by a court petition filed by Tsvangirai, who argued that the veteran leader's landslide victory had been achieved through fraud and rigging.

But the MDC-T leader dropped his case in the Constitutional Court last Friday as party officials admitted the case was weak in the absence of information they wanted from election officials.

However, the court insisted on hearing the petition and ruled Tuesday that elections were free and fair, dismissing allegations of vote-rigging in a further blow to the outgoing prime minister.

"The Zimbabwe presidential election held on 31st July, 2013 was in accordance with the laws of Zimbabwe," Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku said. "The said election was free, fair and credible."

Meanwhile, commenting on preparations for the inauguration, acting Harare governor, Alfred Tome said: "We have got a great event and the whole world will stand still on that day.

"On that day the Head of State will be inaugurated and I am appealing to all people to come in your large numbers.

"We have been allocated 30 buses for Harare and we are appealing to private transporters to also help. We are expecting 85,000 people seated in that stadium."

An unnamed Jamaican star has been invited to perform at the inauguration and will be supported by Koffi Olomide, Amayenge from Zambia, Black Mambazo from South Africa and a host of local artists.

"It is our day as Zimbabweans. There are no losers and winners in this thing, it is Zimbabwe that has won," said Tome.

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