"Well, last time the world checked, Zimbabwe belonged to the people of Zimbabwe," State Department spokesperson 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 told the daily media briefing at the State Department.
"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.
"Those who govern should govern in the interest of the governed. The governed should be able to determine who governs them and in what manner," McCormack said.
"And in a democracy …. they should be able to freely express their views through the ballot box. They clearly haven’t been able to," he said.
Mugabe vowed on Friday to "never, never, never, never surrender" to US and other international calls to step down.
"Zimbabwe is mine, I am a Zimbabwean. Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans. Zimbabwe never for the British, Britain for the British," Mugabe told his Zanu-PF party’s annual conference amid a ruinous political crisis and a deadly cholera epidemic.
The veteran leader in the former British colony said he would remain until "his people decide to change him".
Facing a war with Britain
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.
His speech came after his rival Morgan Tsvangirai threatened to quit deadlocked unity government talks over the abductions of more than 42 members of his Movement for Democratic Change party and civil society.
Tsvangirai finished ahead of Mugabe in first-round presidential elections in March, but handed the presidency to his rival when he pulled out of a second round, citing violence against his supporters.
Mugabe’s party also lost its majority in parliament in March elections for the first time since independence in 1980. – AFP
The interview went like this:
MR. MCCORMACK: Good morning, everybody. I don’t have anything to start off with, so we can get right to your questions.
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: President Mugabe has said that – or is quoted as having offered to name Morgan Tsvangirai as prime minister. Do you take this seriously, or do you think this is another dodge on the part of Mugabe?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I haven’t seen a response from Mr. Tsvangirai, but one suspects, given the history of Mr. Mugabe in these kinds of proposals, that this is probably just a head fake. He – you know, he probably sees a lot of the pressure growing on him, and he’s looking for a way out, potentially. I don’t know. I can’t tell you exactly what his motivations might be. But again, based on history, one would take such a proposal with a grain of salt.
QUESTION: And about Mugabe, he just said Zimbabwe is mine and he vowed never to surrender to calls to step down. So do you have any reaction to “Zimbabwe is mine”?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, last time the world checked, Zimbabwe belonged to the people of Zimbabwe. You know, again, it’s a statement that I think sums up in a concise way what is at the root of Zimbabwe’s problems.
QUESTION: Which is?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, he thinks that the state of Zimbabwe and the people of Zimbabwe are there only to serve his interests. It’s the other way around, or it should be the other way around. Those who govern should govern in the interest of the governed. The governed should be able to determine who governs them and in what manner. And in a democracy, which Mr. Mugabe says Zimbabwe is, supposedly, they should be able to freely express their views through the ballot box. They clearly haven’t been able to. Hence, our statements from – you heard from the President as well as the Secretary over the past couple weeks, as well as many, many, many others in the international system.
QUESTION: Thank you.