Mugabe hints at retirement

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MUTARE – President Robert Mugabe yesterday hinted that he was on his way out and that it is now time for youths to come on board and assume responsibilities.

He chastened his old guard at a rally held in Mutare yesterday — where he was addressing the gathering as part of his nationwide meet-the-youth rallies — saying youths must shun being used by power hungry ministers and senior party leaders in exchange for money.

Apparently, this was in reference to the dog-eat-dog affair in his party, where his top aides are savaging each other over his succession.

Two rival camps are at the centre of the vicious infighting namely Generation 40 (G40) and Team Lacoste.

The latter is rallying support behind Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, while the former claims to be interested in a Mugabe life presidency.

Yesterday, Mugabe seemed to intimate that none among the old guard could replace him.

“We need to unite, people did not say since the meeting was organised by the youths it should be for youths only but even the elders chose to join the proceedings, thank you for supporting the youths, I believe you regard the youths as deserving inheritors, ours is about who will take over after we have gone, we have lost so many people, we should not forgot that our elders are the ones who left the country heading for Mozambique. We are the past generation, isu taenda (we are on our way out) . . . ,” Mugabe said.

He, however, said the country’s independence could not have been attained had people considered tribe or regionalism.

“Some are used in tribal wars and I want (youth leader Kudzanai) Chipanga to fully understand this, if you want to follow in our footsteps.

“We were not bought by money, as individuals we were never bribed because they knew that we were united, we were principled and we had terms and conditions that we followed,” Mugabe said.

He further spoke extensively about how other ministers and senior party officials are using money to bribe the youths to support them in their quest to reach to the top.

“So you must not be bribed by your elders, be they ministers who buy cars for you to rally behind them. By merely accepting these gifts, you automatically become a sell-out. When you do that when you are in Chipanga’s position, do not assume that your juniors are not aware of what will be happening, you will be merely showing them that you are not principled.

“People will criticise you, no matter how good you were before, they will say Chipanga is no longer principled, he has lost the party principles, yet you were one of those that we trusted . . . ,” Mugabe said.

His remarks seem to suggest that the veteran nationalist could have heard something uncomplimentary about the Zanu PF youth league leader, who assumed the position in September last year after a vote of no confidence was passed on Pupuprai Togarepi, whom he had deputised.

Mugabe said senior party officials must leave the youths alone.

“We want youths that we can trust with the future of the country. Today’s youths are tomorrow’s leaders,” he said.

He also praised his government for having done a lot for war veterans, through paying school fees for their children, adding that his wife Grace, was the one behind the Command Agriculture initiative.

In the court of public opinion, Mnangagwa was seen as the brains behind the initiative.

“When we gave land to the people, we then thought that we must come up with a programme to unite the people by first checking where we have dams. In those areas, we asked those close-by to be included in the programme. The idea first came from Mai Mugabe and she shared her ideas with the Vice President Mnangagwa.

“They created the programme together and we later named it Command Agriculture, so until today we are implementing it and it has given us fruits. Of course, we had good rains this season, but we had said all those close to dams must come and benefit from the programme and we provided fertiliser, seed and equipment to use and farm as a united force. So we had a bumper harvest and harvested a lot of maize,” Mugabe said.-DN