New Zimbabwe (London)

Zimbabwe: MDC-T, West Hit By Lightning - Mugabe

THE opposition MDC-T party and Western powers were so stunned by Zanu PF's electoral triumph last year that they still have no idea what hit them, President Robert Mugabe said Sunday.

Mugabe was addressing thousands of supporters at Marondera's Rudhaka Stadium during celebrations to mark his 90th birthday.

"They (opponents) did not know what hit them, it was Chaminuka's lightning. The MDC-T was left on the floor utterly baffled. Even Western powers were left baffled by the resounding victory," he said.

"It was a thunderous and resounding voice by the people. The people and Zanu PF are one, inseparable. When you talk to the people, the majority of them are Zanu PF".

Regional powers forced Mugabe into a government of national unity with bitter political rival, Morgan Tsvangirai after the violent and inconclusive 2008 elections, a development the veteran leader has described as humiliating.

But Mugabe and his Zanu PF party recovered and pulled off a comprehensive come back to demolish his opponent and garner a two thirds majority in last year's general elections.

Tsvangirai refused to accept defeat, alleging the poll was rigged. He was backed in his claims by the United States and former colonial power Britain.

Despite regularly berating the UK for interfering in the country's internal affairs, Mugabe however said Sunday that he does not hate the British.

"We do not hate the British but we only love our country more than we love the British. It is natural that we love ourselves more than we love them and we also love our freedom more," said Mugabe.

Previously touted as an example for the developing world and always welcome in Western capitals, Mugabe spectacularly fell out of favour with his former backers after he moved to redistribute land to Zimbabwe's black majority, in an exercise that was often bloody.

The European Union, the US and other Western countries responded with sanctions which the ageing leader blames for the country's economic and social malaise.

The EU has however lifted most of its sanctions, leaving only Mugabe and wife, Grace under a travel ban. But the US has shown no signs of relenting.

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