JOHANNESBURG – President Robert Mugabe yesterday thanked South Africa for “taking care” of Zimbabweans who live and work in the country and called for support for President Jacob Zuma.
“You know that we owe you not just a gesture of thankfulness, which we must express, but we owe you that thankfulness for the tolerance there has been on the part of the government here, as our people have really offended your system by jumping the border and disturbing even the social system here,” he said at a media briefing with Zuma, while on a State visit.
“Where they have come as workers, well and good — we say thank you for providing them with that work.”
Relations between the two countries must be strengthened, he said.
He astounded and amused the media, who he called comrades, with long chats about various topics, and thanked them for the “publicity’” about him.
“You focused on me as a real dictator. Yes. A dictator would have cut the throat of Ian Smith,” he said referring to one of that country’s last white heads of State.
“I said, ‘let us turn our swords and ploughshares and work together’.”
He said Zimbabweans had vowed that those who were guilty of apartheid, would not get away with it, but that was “anger that comes with struggle”.
“Those who were enemies yesterday, they are friends.”
He continued with: “The Afrikaners say they came the moment (Jan) van Riebeeck set foot in the Cape and they forgot they had a home in Holland.
“But did they have apartheid? No. But then they want peace and peace does not mean you must have the lion’s share and the others have the baboon’s share.
“No, you are all together, let’s be equal. We did not send away whites. We took away land in accordance with what the British government and ourselves agreed upon.”
He said former UK prime minister Tony Blair reneged on that agreement and did not want to pay the compensation.
“Blair. Who is he? He (was) the prime minister of Britain. I am president of Zimbabwe. It is our land, we will take it.”
He urged people to be supportive of Zuma.
“He has been in your Press a lot. For what for?” he asked in a coaxing voice.
“We are South Africans, we can’t demolish our president.”
He offered Zimbabwe’s support to South Africa, saying: “We will support you. You will become a Bafana Bafana politically.”
Bafana Bafana is South Africa’s national soccer team.
“Thank you for listening to me — I can go on and on.”