PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday ploughed into the Zanu PF warring factions fighting to succeed him, saying such practices were unheard of during the liberation war where positions were not acquired through canvassing.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
Mugabe, who turned 93 yesterday, was addressing his staff and service chiefs, who organised a birthday party for him at his Munhumutapa offices.
“During that time, people would vet you. There was no canvassing for positions. People would have to assess you before making their decision. We didn’t talk of G40 or Lacoste,” he said.
“If you are a leader of the people, be a true leader.”
The veteran leader has increasingly denied that age is getting the better of him, but the greater part of his speech yesterday was inaudible.
He chronicled his life history to the time he was in Ghana and his return to join the struggle for independence.
Mugabe said during that time, it was unusual to canvass for support to assume leadership positions.
Already Zanu PF is sharply divided between supporters of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and First Lady Grace Mugabe’s loyalists.
The two Zanu PF factions have been engaged in nasty fights both publicly and privately all in a bid to take over from Mugabe. The factional wars have also threatened to paralyse government business.
He said true leaders put people’s desires first.
Mugabe, who always claims he will not give up power as long as people still want him to lead, said he draws courage and support from the people and without them would never had made his achievements.
He said without people’s support, political office will be a nightmare. Mugabe said leadership required honesty and contentment.
The President said foreign investors must behave and not act as if the resources they were pursuing were theirs.
“What are we as a country if we cannot say the forests, the animals, the gold, diamonds, copper and other minerals underground are ours? If we cannot say that, then whose are they?” he said.
Mugabe said he was not a loner, as he had some friends, and that it was through God’s grace and not of his making that he was turning 93. Mugabe said his memory was still as sharp and he could retell stories that happened about 80 years ago.
Both Vice-Presidents Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko were in attendance.
The Office of the President and Cabinet as well as service chiefs donated an undisclosed amount of money towards Mugabe’s birthday and he is expected to donate that money to the disadvantaged.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Zanu PF youths toyi-toyed in Harare yesterday, claiming they were carrying out a clean-up campaign to celebrate Mugabe’s birthday.
The youths marched from the Harare provincial office up to Zanu PF headquarters, singing and celebrating Mugabe’s birthday, but at intervals they swept the streets.
Zanu PF secretary for youth affairs, Kudzi Chipanga urged youths to take up leadership positions at any level, though warning against unbridled ambition to gun for Mugabe’s post.
“It is clear that the MDC people that were voted into different councils don’t know what they are doing. In 2018, we are taking over. There is nowhere written that you (youths) cannot be councillors or MPs,” he said.
“One position, which is not for contestation, is that of President Mugabe. This is agreed in heaven and on earth that this position is for President Mugabe. Other posts you can contest, but not this one.”
Chipanga said the “clean-up” campaign was meant to show the way to the MDC-T-led councils who are allegedly failing to deliver services in the cities they preside over.