Fungi Kwaramba 20 November 2017
HARARE – President Robert Mugabe stuck to his old, tired script yesterday
evening, telling a nation anticipating his exit that he is going nowhere.
In a televised address, beamed live on national television, Mugabe noted
the fast-paced events of the past few days, including internal processes
activated by his Zanu PF party to get him out of office, but gave no hint
that he was considering vacating the high pressure job anytime soon.
Even though his party had taken the decision to recall him a few hours
earlier, replacing the 93-year-old nationalist with Emmerson Mnangagwa,
Mugabe declared he will preside over the ruling party’s congress due in
two weeks, ignoring the fact that he is no longer the leader of Zanu PF.
The nation had been made to wait for his address that had been scheduled
to be aired before prime time news at 8pm on State television, but after
nearly two hours of waiting, the ZTV crew later beamed a downcast Mugabe,
in the presence of security chiefs, ready to go live with his address.
What followed disappointed viewers who had been made to believe that the
address was Mugabe’s last as president.
Mugabe, who spoke incoherently, constantly shuffling papers, said he still
has a role to play in Zanu PF and had heeded the military decisions to end
the bitter factional squabbles in his party.
He said Zimbabweans, who demonstrated against his unpopular rule in their
tens of thousands in Harare and Bulawayo on Saturday, are peaceful and
pleaded for engagement to “resolve our differences”.
“The congress is due in a few weeks from now and I will preside over it,
it must not be predetermined by any act calculated to undermine it or to
compromise it. I am aware that many developments have been taking place in
the party and by individuals in the name of the party, given the failings
of the party….however, we cannot be guided by bitterness and
revengefulness, which would not makes us any better… Zimbabweans,” he
In a speech typifying his long reign, Mugabe preached reconciliation and a
promise to address the issues raised by the Zimbabwe military, led by
General Constantino Chiwenga.
“We must learn to forget and resolve our issues in a comradely Zimbabwean
way, I am confident that from tonight that our nation will get focussed as
we put shoulder to the wheel,” said Mugabe.
There has been growing calls for Mugabe to retire with the Zanu PF central
committee earlier yesterday giving him an ultimatum to resign before today
midday or risk an impeachment.
The army took over control last week and arrested several Zanu PF
officials from the Generation 40 faction.
Mugabe said the intervention by the military was motivated by “a deep
patriotic concern for the stability of the nation.
“The operation that I have alluded to does not amount to a threat to our
well cherished constitutional order nor does it threaten my position as
the head of State and government, not even as commander-in-chief of the
Zimbabwe Defence Forces,” he said.
He said corrective steps were being taken to restore normalcy in the party
that has been rocked by factionalism for decades.
Mugabe acknowledged that the infighting in Zanu PF has almost rendered
government operations dysfunctional but “all this now had been stopped as
we inaugurate a new work culture, which will show our strong sense of
purpose to turn around the fortunes of our economy”.
Unfazed by the protests, Mugabe said his government will now pursue
policies designed to extricate Zimbabweans from the present economic
Responding to the concerns that were raised by the military generals,
Mugabe also assuaged his commanders as he promised to give in to demands
of war veterans who have been at the forefront of pushing for his ouster.
Mugabe said he acknowledged the concerns raised by the generals concerning
the party which they said had been hijacked by “criminal elements”.
“I am aware that as a party of the liberation struggle, Zanu PF has over
the years written procedures that guide operations of all its organ and
personnel…the current criticism raised again by the command element has
arisen from a well founded perception that the party was failing in its
procedures,” he said.
The country’s service chiefs, among them Chiwenga, Air Force commander
Perrance Shiri, police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri, Zimbabwe
National Army commander Phillip Sibanda and commissioner of prisons,
Paradzai Zimondi attended yesterday’s high stakes meeting.
Also present was Justice minister Happyton Bonyongwe, who until recently
was the director-general of the country’s secret service.