AN overwhelming majority of Sky News viewers and online readers say President Robert Mugabe’s interview with the British television station this week was “unconvincing”.
Sky News poll results on the interview broadcast worldwide showed most people did not think Mugabe’s claims on the situation in Zimbabwe were serious or convincing.
Mugabe was interviewed on the broad political and economic situation in the country. He largely denied there were problems related to elections, the political situation, food or the economy.
But at least 86% of the people polled by Sky News by yesterday said Mugabe was “unconvincing”, while 13% said he was convincing. The global poll has been running since the interview was aired on Monday and ends tomorrow.
However, Information minister Jonathan Moyo yesterday claimed the poll was a “false survey”.
Mugabe was criticised at home and abroad for remarks made in the interview. Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Mugabe’s interview was “a shocking tale of misrepresentations and deception”.
Tsvangirai said Mugabe gave “a brilliant fictional account” of what is going on in the country. He said the interview proved Mugabe was detached from the country’s realities.
“The whole interview was a tale of blatant misrepresentations and wildly variable distortions of the situation in Zimbabwe,” Tsvangirai said.
“He misrepresented everything from elections, food, political violence, the economic crisis, and his party’s youth militia, to his mansion.”
Britain’s Conservative Party deputy leader and shadow foreign secretary Michael Ancram said the interview showed that Mugabe was either living on a different planet or was just a “pathological liar”.
Tsvangirai said the interview was only useful insofar as it showed the world that Mugabe was “intolerant, belligerent and anachronistic”.
In the interview, Mugabe repeated his angry criticism of British Prime Tony Blair whom he claimed had done “mad things” which have plunged the world into turmoil.
He also blamed Blair for isolating him from his erstwhile ally, Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi.
Mugabe claimed Zimbabwe had enough food supplies and that the World Food Programme was trying to foist food on the country.
He said his violent seizure of land from “ill-educated” white farmers was “going to reinvigorate the economy”.
In a series of denials, Mugabe also denied that he stole 2002’s disputed presidential election. He denied there was widespread political violence and that the national youth training programme was creating violent militias.
Mugabe attacked South African retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu, saying he was “an angry, evil and embittered little bishop”. Tutu has criticised Mugabe for political repression and human rights abuses.
Tsvangirai said it was “shameful” for Mugabe to try to denounce the Nobel peace laureate for speaking out on human rights violations.
“It was shameful and unfortunate for Mugabe to try to take a dim view of a man who commands worldwide respect like Tutu,” he said. “Whatever he says he can’t obliterate Tutu’s place in history and the respect all progressive people have for him.”
Political analyst Professor Brian Raftopoulos said Mugabe’s interview was shallow and replete with sweeping generalisations.
“I don’t think the president gave a comprehensive explanation of issues. He was defensive and reacted with broad generalisations,” he said. “He simply denied any problems existed and tried to gloss over the issues.”