PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has committed Zimbabwe and the ruling Zanu PF party to democratic tenets and honest engagement with the rest of the world.
By Richard Chidza
Under former President Robert Mugabe, who was forced to resign following a military intervention last month, Zimbabwe had turned into a pariah State amid accusations of human rights abuses and skewed social, economic and political policies.
In his address to the Zanu PF extraordinary congress yesterday, Mnangagwa pledged that Zanu PF would pit itself against the opposition in a free, fair and credible political contest next year. His comments come in the wake of demands from Western powers as well as the opposition for a commitment to reforming the poisoned political environment ahead of the elections.
“We must take pride in our abilities and resources, guarding ourselves from being opinionated to the extent of not knowing that we need and benefit from mutually beneficial partnerships with the rest of the world. We mean well, we stand as a nation of its word, of its promise. We are committed to repair broken relations desiring to rebuild our economy so it gives jobs to our people especially the youths and improves the living standards of our people,” Mnangagwa said.
Mnangagwa said his speeches after a brief period in exile following his expulsion by Mugabe, his inaugural speech and the budget statement by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa gave the world a “peep into the new era we seek to build” promising once again free, fair and credible elections next year.
“In the same vein, democracy bids that as a political party Zanu PF must always compete for office, through pitting itself against the opposition parties in elections which must be credible, free, fair and transparent.
“We must vow to observe the rule of law, to live and to govern in accordance with the tenets of our struggle, for failure to do so will undoubtedly result in damnation of the party, whatever our rank and level,” Mnangagwa told party leaders.
Mnangagwa warned Zanu PF against remaining stuck in past glory.
“… we should not be a party of the past. We must also be a party of the future, a party of prosperity and posterity. Let us be alive to the fact that successful parties constantly renew themselves, speaking to youths, women and the disadvantaged,” the President said.
With the shadow of regionalism looming large especially during the bitter factional tussle that culminated in Mugabe’s removal and his elevation, Mnangagwa rejected he was an ethnic leader.
“I stand before you, therefore, as the President of a united, non-racial Zimbabwe, itself home to many tongues, dialects, cultures, colours and age groups.
“I am a President of men and women, the young and the old, the able-bodied and physically challenged, the rich and the poor, the well and the sick,” he said.
While Mugabe sought to project Mnangagwa as a regional leader claiming he had hounded former Vice-President Simon Muzenda from Midlands province, Mnangagwa sought to project himself as a national figure.
“My Presidency should not be perceived as a rise in the fortunes of a region, tribe or totem. My Presidency is about a united Zanu PF, a national party with a national outlook,” Mnangagwa said. “I am President for Ndebeles, Shonas, Zezurus, Ndaus, Karangas, Manyikas, Vendas, Chewas and Sothos. I am also the President of Tongas, Tswanas, Xhosas, Khoisan, Shangaan, Kalangas, Nambyas and the English who are all celebrated by our Constitution.”
Having risen to power on the coat-tails of unrelenting agitation from veterans of the liberation struggle and the military, Mnangagwa sought to wean himself from Mugabe’s shadow, whose relationship with the former fighters in 37 years of his rule had hit rocky ground.
“I am an emissary of all veterans and heroes, dead or alive who through their blood sketched the cause and mission which my Presidency must promote, must actualise and advance,” he said.
Mnangagwa urged Zanu PF members to be on the lookout for infiltrators, adding there was need to rehabilitate members “corrupted” by factional fights under Mugabe.