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Zimbabwean Head Of State, President Robert Mugabe Celebrates His 88th Birthday Today

Filed under : Africa, Entertainment, Politics

Zimbabwean Head of State, President Robert Mugabe celebrates his 88th birthday today *crickets*…

Here are excerpts of President Mugabe’s interview with the national television channel, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) which aired last night in Zimbabwe.

Tarzen Mandizvidza: Your excellency one issue that has been talked about for quite sometime is the issue of the Constitution. It has taken longer than we all thought but are you really happy with the progress?

President Mugabe: Not really. It’s a process that is puzzling us now. When we begun we thought it was a matter of 18 months and we have an election.  But as things look now, one doesn’t know what’s happening and one doesn’t know which way people would want us to go. There is the dragging of feet, so much delay in the process. I don’t know what the real problem is but as others describe the problem, they think those who are charged with the task of putting ideas together, examining what the people said during the outreach programme are dragging their feet deliberately. They want longer time, longer time because it means more money. They are given allowances. They are being paid and if the process comes to an end, so does naturally, the payment. It comes to an end. I don’t know it, that is, the reason, whether it’s because the people who are at the top of it want a longer period to earn money or there are some problems. But, I would want to believe that one problem is that some people or shall I say, one or two parties to the constitution-making process might now have discovered that this way of the constitution making is not in their favour and that the views that were obtained during the outreach programme are not in their favour. They are not supportive of their parties and so they are dragging and dragging and dragging on, either to confound the process or to get the other side to tire and give up the exercise and the exercise doesn’t happen at all.  So one wonders why we abandoned, in the first place, the process that we had agreed on that this was going to be based on the Kariba Draft, which was all ready, all agreed and enunciating, you know, the process, which could have been completed in a short period. But we listened to our counterparties that it was better to listen to the people first. To get a comprehensive view from our nation and on the basis of the views that would have been expressed, build a constitution. But this is not proving to be a success at all.

Tarzen Mandizvidza: Your counterparts in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) are actually accusing Zanu-PF. They say Zanu-PF is causing the delays because it’s afraid of elections.

President Mugabe: No! We want elections, we wanted them yesterday, we want them today, we want them any day, but others are saying no, no, no, we can’t have elections. First, they were saying 2012, now they are saying in 2013. But perhaps when we get much further without elections they will say no elections at all; let us remain in power without elections.

Tarzen Mandizvidza: Your Excellency, looking at this scenario, when are we likely to have elections?

President Mugabe: Yes, sure; this year! We just must have elections. They just must take place with or without a new constitution. And we will, on our side as a party, we have made a decision, last year at our conference that this year we definitely have  an election exercise.
If others don’t want to have an election then they are free not to participate. Nobody is forced to go to an election but definitely I will exercise my presidential powers in accordance with the main principal law, the Constitution of our country and announce when the election will take place.  And I will do this.

Tarzen Mandizvidza: Your Excellency, what is this road-map? What should the nation expect?

President Mugabe: They should expect a referendum, a referendum to get the people’s views, whether the people accept the draft constitution or not. If they reject it then we revert to the old constitution, if they accept then the usual process takes place.

Tarzen Mandizvidza: Your Excellency, talking of the draft constitution, there have been reports that there is a certain clause that has been put there in order to bar you from contesting as a presidential candidate by limiting terms of office.

President Mugabe: Cowards, cowards, cowards! Why are they afraid of me? Why should they ban anyone at all? We haven’t come to a position where political tricks or legal tricks, for that matter are put in place to bar anyone, who normally has the right to participate in an election.

Tarzen Mandizvidza: Still on elections, is Zanu PF ready for elections? I am saying this in light of the factionalism we hear about. Are you prepared as a party?

President Mugabe: Well I don’t know anything about factionalism. You always get differences in a party. I suppose this makes the process. It’s always the fact of differences, we have contradictions. We must resolve these contradictions, move forward and you move forward, you will also encounter new contradictions, new differences and also have solutions and that’s how progress is made, isn’t it? It always comes after such contradictions provided solutions do occur in regard to them. Yes, yes, yes the party is always ready, ever ready. This means we are always ready to fight.

Tarzen Mandizvidza: Your Excellency, what calibre of a leader would you want to succeed you and at the moment can you say you have found that successor?

President Mugabe: NO! The party will find a successor. It’s the people who can find a successor. I came from the people and the people in their wisdom, our members of the party, will certainly select someone once I say I am now retiring, but not yet. At this age I can still go some distance, can’t I?

Tarzen Mandizvidza: Zanu-PF has been in power for the past 32 years, what do you offer the electorate?

President Mugabe: What do we offer the electorate? Goodness me! Independence gave us political freedom and we say that political freedom can not be complete unless we have sovereignty over our natural resources and we started by exercising the right, sovereign right, in acquiring our land and apportioning it to our people and so the first step was for us to feel that we are not just politically sovereign. And that is why the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act was passed and this requires that whatever companies undertake mining in the country or any manufacturing exercise or any other socio-economic activity; if these companies are foreign, they must cede at least 51 percent.

Tarzen Mandizvidza: Let’s move away from elections and the party. Let’s look at the GPA. Are you happy with the progress that you have made?

President Mugabe: I am happy with the fact that it has managed to at least get us together with the other parties so they can participate in Government and have a feel of what Government is and also be exposed to the public. Now that the public knows what Zanu-PF stands for, MDC-T, M, N or whatever they call themselves; what these stand for. So we are there for the people. It has also enabled us, and it is one good thing it has done; the GPA enabled us to work together, know each other. We are parties and perhaps cease regarding ourselves as enemies but regard each other as opponents. People, yes, with differences among themselves, ideological differences, political differences. Differences in approach to definite issues and therefore people who can tolerate each other and at the end of the day we are Zimbabweans.  But yes, we may oppose each other and oppose each other quite firmly. But must we unleash violence to each other? That must stop of course. No violence. We accommodate people from outside, just as our people can be accommodated in other countries as well. But no, they should never, never, never attempt to impose their power over us. Fortunately, now we have well educated people. Very, very highly educated people and nobody can boss us intellectually.

Tarzen Mandizvidza: Yes, Your Excellency and we also read of alleged clashes between yourself and the Prime Minister. How do you describe your working relationship with the Prime Minister?

President Mugabe: I read of the clashes in the papers. In the Standard and what are the others? The little papers! (TM: Daily News?) Dustbin things, Yah! This is where the fights are and I wonder where they get the information from. But because they must create these fights it’s Tsvangirai going for Mugabe. So and so and I am always at the receiving end, you see. Even when people come to my State House where I am the resident, they have come to fight me. No, no, no! It has always been very peaceful. We were very suspicious of each other at the beginning but as time went on, we got to know each other. Now Tsvangirai can drink a cup of tea which I make and I have no objections drinking a cup of tea which he makes.

Tarzen Mandizvidza: Your Excellency, from what you have said this might become a tricky situation where it has been alleged that the Prime Minister was involved in some fraudulent activity which involves the purchase of the Prime Minister’s residence and it is said the police have done their work and are waiting for the go ahead to arrest him. Is he going to be arrested?

President Mugabe: I am not a policeman. The President is not a policeman. When crimes are committed, the police do not come to the President to ask permission to arrest an individual. They just proceed on the basis that they derive their power from the law and arrest individuals. If anything, it harms our reputation and I hope they have investigated the matter thoroughly not just rush to make up things against the Prime Minister.

Tarzen Mandizvidza: Your Excellency, from there we take you to the state of the economy. You spoke about mining, you spoke about indigenisation, are you happy with the contribution that mining has done to the economy in totality?

President Mugabe: There is mining taking place. Just now our eyes are fixed on diamond mining. Not much has come from that mining yet because the sales are not many and there are hindrances being put along the way.
Put in the way of selling and marketing diamonds by the United States. They go to our main markets, to main buyers of diamonds and threaten them. (They go) to ask them not to buy Zimbabwean diamonds. It is alleged that these are blood diamonds but I haven’t seen any blood flowing on the diamonds. I have visited Chiadzwa, I have done so twice, but they are very clean. We know that the US, Britain and other Western countries do not want to see us succeed. They want their sanctions to pull us down and ruin us economically but we refuse to be ruined. We are a resilient nation and we know what our rights are and we will not be subjugated by anyone. But they try their best and this is the reason why not much has come from the diamond sector.

Tarzen Mandizvidza: Do you have this capital?

President Mugabe: We thought we had SDRs. The IMF gave us but they were used otherwise. Yes, we create capital. We can borrow from international institutions but the World Bank and IMF must obey the dictates of the West and impose sanctions on us.
Even if they don’t say so but in practice that is what happens and we can’t rely on those ones.
But we have the Afrrexim bank which has been there and the regional banks and reliance on the eastern bloc, China, India and their financial institutions. We can borrow from them and use our resources as security and get loans. They are prepared to give us loans. They are also prepared to bring their companies here and partner us and that way get us rejuvenated and increase the production of our companies.

Tarzen Mandizvidza: Your Excellency, you mention the issue of sanctions, how are you going to handle that within the GPA as your partners are constantly failing to sing from the same hymn book?

President Mugabe: That is what baffles us. Surely, if you are a Zimbabwean and Zimbabwe is being attacked by outsiders and it doesn’t matter what differences between the MDC and ourselves, when outsiders attack us, we must unite against the outsiders and try to drive the outsiders out of Zimbabwe, get his hand off us. His intervention bids us to be together but, no, the MDC decides to side with the Americans, with the Europeans in supporting sanctions against its own people. We do not understand that. They fail to, they find it very difficult, to say sanctions are hurting us. They try to avoid using the word sanctions; they want to call them restrictions. I do not understand, perhaps, it’s the lack of political consciousness, national consciousness, which characterize them. You see, they have not gone through the grill like us. But one doesn’t have to have been a member of the ANC, National Democratic Party, Zapu, Zanu in order to have national consciousness. Just a feeling that Zimbabwe is your country and you will countenance, you will not accept any attack from outside, whether this attack is physical or it’s economic by way of sanctions. That’s what a real party that stands for the people, that operates in the interest of the people, should do. But if you are for the people, how can you then at the same time turn against the people by supporting sanctions, which hurt them.

Tarzen Mandizvidza: One of the issues to do with the economy inyaya yemari. We have serious cash shortages. Are we likely to see the return of the Zimbabwean dollar? What solutions do you have as a Government to deal with the shortages seeing that the money we are using doesn’t come from Zimbabwe?

President Mugabe: I agree, the US dollars did help a bit but the dollars are not minted by us, we don’t manufacture them, we don’t print them. They are American. You can’t expect to develop an economy using foreign currency, American foreign currency. You got to have your own foreign currency. Yes, sure, we had that inflation that rendered our Zim dollar worthless but these things happen to economies when they have the burden of sanctions, the burden of bearing lots of debts and so on and so forth. Our young peopl must feel that they have a stake in their country and that’s very important because the future is more theirs than ours. They are the ones we want to equip, they are the ones we feel must have the necessary skills, intellectually and physically, that will enable them now, to run the country and undertake the various operations that are necessary in order to bring about greater development and transformation of the socio-economic system.

Tarzen Mandizvidza: Thank you Your Excellency, let me take you to issues facing Africa as a continent. Recently you came back from the AU summit and you came back a disappointed man. Do you feel betrayed by your African brothers when it comes to decision-making; decisions that affect Africa?

President Mugabe: I think the crop of leaders we have now is quite different, quite different from the older crop, from their elders. Those of them who came together to form the Organisation of African Unity and vowed that Africa would be freed from imperialism and colonialism and you had them like Nkrumah, you know, pledging that Ghana would not regard itself as free if any part of Africa was still under the yoke of colonialism and imperialism. Then they were bidding that Africa must unite and Nkrumah wrote a book to that effect. You see, they formed the Organisation of African Unity in 1963 and formed also the liberation committee and taught us how to fight for our countries, organised us and showed us how unity could enable us to fight and fight successfully in redeeming our countries and liberating them.


farai – who has written posts on Farai Today.

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