PRESIDENT Mugabe turned 91-years-old on the 21st of February, and had his birthday celebrations in Victoria Falls over the weekend. As per tradition, the President granted an interview to ZBCTv Current Affairs on his reflections on turning 91. The following is a transcript of the interview.
CHRIS CHIVINGE: Welcome to this special programme “Reflections @ 91” when we talk to his Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe on the occasion of his 91st birthday. My name is Chris Chivinge. Your Excellency, Happy Birthday, Makorokoto, Amphlope and welcome to this programme.
Another hectic year gone by; your political stars continue to shine with age, you were re-elected President and First Secretary of the ruling Party Zanu-PF Party at the Zanu-PF 6th National People’s Congress. You are sitting at the helm of the Sadc regional bloc, you are now the chairperson of the AU. This surely is Robert Mugabe on a roller-coaster. Congratulations your Excellency. How do you feel and how are you managing?
PRESIDENT MUGABE: Well, I feel the load is heavy, but we can manage it, manage it from the strength that derives from experience, you see. I have been the chairperson of these organisations before, whether it’s Sadc, or Comesa or the AU and so really its going the same round as before.
But of course, as you move onwards from year to year, the problems of yesterday, what we didn’t fulfil yesterday, as a country, as a region, as an organisation, and even as a continent, those things continue, you see, to be on your agenda all the time. They dog you as it were and you must find solutions to them.
And if you did not have enough capacity, build that capacity up and the best way really is for people to be meeting, talking and discussing, dialoguing as it were, in order to find solutions to the problems . The problems will always be there and that’s why we talk of the need for solutions. Without challenges, we can never talk of solutions because there are no challenges.
There is satisfaction, a state of satisfaction, sufficiency perhaps. But we never get to that state of total adequacy, whether as individuals, as families, as organisations or even as a region not even as a world. And you can just look at us in any of those contexts and you will find lots of inadequacies, shortages perhaps of food, inadequacy perhaps of the provision of social services, education, health and well then there is the side of life that is always sick. Illnesses they dog us.
New ones emerge, Ebola, HIV yesterday, Ebola now, I don’t know what is going to emerge next year or the year after and so problems are part of life, part of life and that’s why we must prepare to meet challenges of that part of life which is a total negativity.
Watch the interview below
CC: But looking at this, Your Excellency, you are 91. Some men and women of your age are confined to wheelchairs some encumbered by poor health, where do you derive the strength to soldier on really that defies your age?
RGM: I also ask myself where I derive the edge, where I derive the energy. I just live from year to year, I have lived from year to year yes, I do certain things that I believe sustain life and sustain me. I must eat and eat well. Eating well is not filling my stomach, it is eating those foodstuffs which I believe sustain one most.
And so you must eat well, that means really not go for food because its attractive and you eat yourself until your tummy is full. No!
Zimbabweans like meat but meat has protein which, if taken in quantities that the body cannot sustain, results also in you getting ill. If you don’t have enough of protein you will also get ill. Yes, I have some beef, but I do listen to the doctors when they say the best meat is white meat that of pork, that of chicken, that of fish.
Yes, but you see, having been bred on beef, you cannot do away with it at all and from time to time you must take it.
But take it in those quantities which do not become a source of a problem by way of some disease, gout or whatever.
And vegetables, take fruit every day.
When we were young at school and we had the fortune of having a doctor, a whole doctor, Father O’Hare, very well trained leading us. And he used to say the best healthy food for you, you children is that you take at least a glass of milk every day and an egg every day. I followed his example until the doctors later told me you can’t be taking eggs every day.
That, they say, also has its own problems but perhaps a glass of milk everyday but I was not used to a glass of milk. My stomach doesn’t take fresh milk directly. But fresh milk mixed with a bit of rice or bit of sadza yah the stomach sustains it, but just fresh milk, a glass of milk I vomit it. But, sour milk yes.
By the way, I only started taking milk very late in life, I never liked it when I was young even though I did milking for my grandmother and my grandfather. I liked milk when it was mixed with flour or hupfu to make munamba, huh that I liked.
I only started taking sour milk in 1939. Now we had a brother Michael, a Marist Brother from Canada, who was in charge of Agriculture.
He had a BSc in Agriculture. There we were in Standard 5 or I think Standard 6 this time, then Kutama had a herd of cattle and the boys in turns used to take the cattle to the dip every Thursday. Two boys.
It was now our turn, Boniface Gumbo and myself, to drive the cattle to the dip, you know, beside the Manyame River. So after we had done so, and returned, seen the cattle well taken care of, Brother Michael then said you come. And the two us followed him and then he gave Boniface and I, each of us a cup of sour milk, very creamy, full of cream, creamy milk.
Take it! drink it and Boniface went through his cup very easily because he was used to it, I also said okay I will take it oh goodness me, no sooner Had I finished it than I poured it all out again, I vomited.
I don’t know that appeared to be the cure. Thereafter I took it without vomiting and I started and just now we keep lots of sour milk from our dairy and it doesn’t make me vomit anymore but the fresh milk will make me vomit unless I take it either boiled or take it with something else.
Well, that’s eeh sweets here and there yes and there sugar we need a bit and a simple diet.
Some vegetables I suppose. sadza anemuriwo kwete kungoramba uchinzi nemuriwo nemuriwo everyday aiwa.
I complain also to the cooks, they like mixing rape and spinach rape and spinach cooked together aah together hakuna mumwe muriwo here vakomana?
And sometimes you feel like going into the kitchen and cooking for yourself and I did, you see, cooking for myself as a bachelor, I married quite late in life. I didn’t want someone to cook for me. But it was very late in life that I married, I was over 30 and I have been a bachelor along the way, yes I had a boy here and there helping me with cooking but I also liked to cook for myself .
CC: Just looking as you rightly point out that you have been informed of this health life . . .
RGM: Oh yes exercise, I do exercise, that I have been doing throughout in my life, when we were in Maputo I used to run up 17 stairs every morning. We had our administration offices right up and you see the lifts didn’t work so it helped me.
I remember Tongogara wondering at the agility I had to run upstairs but it became part of my exercise but I was able to do that because I was doing just ordinary exercise.
Eh you don’t jog along the road, when you are a wanted person. The Rhodesians wanted us and we used to change homes. Samora used to change, saying no, they know where you are now let’s change to other houses. Now jogging was dangerous outside but we had to do stationary run in the home.
CC: Linking up the lifestyle of healthy living from a family point of view you have a dairy, and I think at one time you were doing pigs . . .
RGM: Yes, I have pigs at home, it’s just a way of having some life at home. Just imagine, there is nobody at home except one or two girls looking after the place and life is very dull, it’s pretty quiet but you must have a chicken run. Yes, you have the ordinary road runners and they are running round the home. But we keep also chickens that produce eggs and we buy them from vaGono or from Irvine’s at a laying stage.
They go on laying and there is a boy and girl looking at the home. But we have about a couple of boys also who look at the plot and do the agriculture at home. We have about 13½ hectares at home that we plough every year.
We plant maize and then after maize wheat. We draw water directly from the River Manyame and its close by, then I do piggery and its VaZhanda ava who is deputy Minister of Agriculture, who interested me in pigs and the Chief of Protocol (Ambassador Kajese) is the one who suggested that I talk to VaZhanda.
It so happened that VaZhanda muzukuru we another person who got married to a relative wekumusha so he brought me a couple of pigs to start my piggery and its several years back now and I have sustained it.
A few years ago when the cost of the feed went up in price terribly, I wanted to give it up and I started reducing my piggery from about 400 to 20. Something in me said “this is failure, must I accept failure?” and I said “No”, we will do our own grinding of maize and we have a small grinding machine and then we mix with what we buy from the millers and we feed the pigs. Just now we are at about 300–350, we can go up to maximum of 500 but we haven’t reached that yet. So that’s that, we have a piggery, a chicken run and the eggs seem to yield much more value than the pigs. The pigs are cheap to so many people, and if you send pigs to Colcom you will not get much per pig.
You will get perhaps $200 or less and you have fed the pig, the cost of feeding the pig up to the time its ready for sale is much higher than $300 or thereabout. When we sell to local butcheries they pay a little more than $200 but it depends on the weight of the pig you are selling but we grow very nice pigs.
CC: The so-called independent local press, or media houses, went to town when you tripped but you managed to break your fall upon your return from the AU meeting early this month. Did this in anyway affect your work schedule?
RGM: No, no (laughing) of course that slight fall, missing a step. I have fallen many times in the house, you slip or your foot is held by a carpet which is misplaced and so on or you hit against something or the corner, even a table and you stumble.
So haven’t you fallen? I would want to see a person who has not fallen down, then he doesn’t live on this world. So I don’t see the reason why anyone should be surprised that the President has fallen. Anyway, it didn’t worry me at all. It wasn’t a dangerous fall. It was just a slight fall missing a step, it happened to be a carpet combined with it, granted. I exercise everyday so it didn’t worry me at all.
CC: Now deriving from your party’s 2013 manifesto, Government crafted Zim-Asset and it’s in the process of implementing it. Some argue that the weakness of the programme is failure to get funding for example, resuscitation of closed and ailing industries. Do you see the country overcoming the challenge?
RGM: Yah you might look at Zim-Asset as well-embracing. It’s not just industry, it’s agriculture, it’s infrastructure, it’s mining, yes it’s factory building, manufacturing. It’s the manufacturing side that is low, that is letting us down.
In a sense also the mining sector is not as well-controlled now as it used to be until of course when we went into the inclusive Government which liberalised the economy, we also have ESAP and all that, and people were free to do what they like in mining. Makorokoza then increased in numbers, they were smuggling gold to South Africa. Those were things that were happening but we are controlling things now.
And in mining Fidelity has once again been given the monopoly that it once had in the past. Gold can only be sold to Fidelity, but we are aware that there are still leakages, areas we must guard and guard very closely because they are the cause of the leakages.
The diamonds, that is a very difficult industry, we are re-organising it so we have just the State and one or two partners with the State producing diamonds right across. That is how it is in South Africa, that’s how it is in Botswana, Namibia et cetera.
You don’t have fararira revanhu vachitsvaga madiamonds. So we are re-organising that but it will take us time, to be full-swing we must have proper machinery. Just now it is alluvial, vari kuita sekutora jecha vachisefa, ma alluvial even the mining companies.
Only the Chinese were doing the conglomerates. The conglomerates, you see, you can mine diamonds in three ways: Where you have diamonds on the surface, in the sand, that’s alluvial iro ndere kusefa iro.
Then where the diamonds are found in stone-works and you have ridges of stones, little mountains, you break the stone-work. That is what Anjin was doing, the Chinese, that was conglomerate, it’s still alluvial except that the stones and the diamonds came together.
The third is Kimberlite, that’s the best. Now this alluvial naturally on the surface the diamonds have a coating, a dirty coating which you must clean, so it’s not very clean. You get germs and industrial diamonds along the way. So even the conglomerate is not as clean as Kimberlite but there is no Kimberlites right now as we talk, yet we have lots of deposits of kimberlites.
It’s very easy to do alluvial vese vana Mbada, vanaAnjin does conglomerates vese ne zvimwe zvese zvanga zvauya its all kunosefa ivhu and raperaka. There is not much more alluvial unless we discover other places but we know of diamonds that have been discovered by De Beers, and De Beers had taken all the information kunana Wits University and hidden the papers from us but fortunately some people, clever enough have stolen the papers and sent them to us and we have the maps now of where the diamonds are.
Across the country, there is hardly a province which does not have diamonds, but of course, mining must be deep now and we need real heavy machinery uum and also we need experienced people and that’s why I say for now and actually and perhaps even in the future.
The main mineral we should rely on most is gold. Gold is almost everywhere and more alluvial than diamond alluvial. So alluvial mabva muma river and alluvial elsewhere is easier to mine and some may be very deep with some gold seams but most of our gold is still on the surface. So it’s easier to mine and also easier to process, that’s why we have so much of it being smuggled out.
And we also had mining companies, most of these companies vana Anglo, vana Rio Tinto, vana Lonrho, made lots of money, fortunes from our gold but then we were still a colony, settler colony but once we got free then they started selling and going away because they knew we were going to insist on the ownership of our resources, that Africans must take ownership of the mining sector in the same way we have been taking ownership of the land and agriculture.
So you have to look at the Zim-Asset from the point of view of multiple facets that we are pursuing in order for us to get the necessary wealth with which we can then develop our country and our people.
Agriculture is doing well except for the fact that the climatic conditions are not that constant. We have more drought seasons than good rainy seasons. We thought this year was going to be a good rainy season to give us a good rain season, but apparently our expectations have been dashed.
The period in which we are, February, should have been really the middle now of the rainy season with very heavy rains and vakuru vaiti ndiye Kubvumbi, February une mubvumbi, mibvumbi yemvura that means persistent rains from day to day but its persistent sunshine. We don’t know whether the skies will be promising in a few days. Those in the Meteorological Services will tell us there are clouds in the south and clouds elsewhere but still the cloud, clouds, clouds but still don’t bring us rain. And it’s bad, bad, bad here and for our region also.
Whereas in the north Zambia has had a good rainy season and Malawi even had floods, in the southern part it has been a disaster, Botswana had a worse disaster than ourselves, ah South Africa very bad, am told that the main province which produces most of the maize is Orange Free State but am told that about 40-50 percent of the crop withered for lack of moisture, lack of rain.
Right, well for us, tobacco, tobacco apparently will do better than maize. I don’t know. Soya bean I am sure will be a failure but we had some rain for us to undertake the growing of wheat as from end of March on, that is always through irrigation. Our dams are full so if we can get our people do as much wheat growing as possible we can improve on our performance of last year.
Well that’s agriculture. Cotton, cotton also has been affected, so cotton, maize, tobacco, if these three were to do well the two that you ask can cash out of the three will always be tobacco and cotton.
Maize, the price of maize cannot be too high because it’s our food, it is for subsistence, our own sustenance and therefore it should not be inaccessible to the average family and, therefore, the price for the maize should be kept as low as possible and so we cannot rely on it as a yielder of cash, it’s not a cash crop, no!
CC: But looking at the agriculture landscape you look at the communal farmer and you realise that over the years that the communal farmer has been the biggest contributor to the food basket. They also have been one of the major players in cotton and now we are beginning to see that as far as the tobacco output is concerned, they are actually also becoming the biggest players.
But the problem is always that the communal farmers remain on the periphery of agricultural because there are unable to get access the loans, they do not have collateral, which is a requirement that is put by the banks. Do we have anything that we have from Government that will enable the communal farmer to transform from being a subsistence farmer to becoming a formidable player?
RGM: Sure, the re-organisation of farming which has come about as a result of the ownership of land and given to the people has also yielded a sector which combines with the communal one in producing food for us, that is, maize in large quantities, that is the A1 farmer.
I think the A1 farmer, together with the communal farmers, the communal farmers have little land now left. If you can get a farmer who still has the 4 acres they used to have, I will be surprised because as families grew larger than before the sons took over.
The children were given portions of the 4 hectares and if you get a family owning 2 acres and that family in a communal area has lots of land.
I would want to believe that at least one acre is possible as an average that they have and also now their means of tillage seem to have grown poorer because those in the resettlement were from a communal area by and large here and there.
They might have shared implements and even the cattle but looking at the resettlement farms, areas which are next to us at home it appears that the A1 farmers started just from zero with nothing but the piece of the land given to them, the 6 hectares. Now they have 6 hectares which is quite a piece of land as compared to the 4-acre the communal area families had nguva yekauya maraini.
Marainini akauya kuvamba kwama1940’s ndopakauya maraini vanhu vaipihwa 4 acres ukaenda kwavaipihwa 6 acres vakanga vakataramukana kusina vanhu vazhinji.
So it was 4 acres on the average and then it was insisted that today carry out a rotation system; maize I think rapoko, groundnut or rapoko some grew cotton instead of the second acre yemaize but quite often was maize, and they used organic manure not fertiliser and they used to produce very good yields per acre.
Then the rotation system requires that where you put legumes or ground nuts or nyemba you don’t put manure ikoko because as we were taught in biology, botany they fix nitrogen in the soil, from the air and getting it into the soil, enriching the soil and the legumes and where you have removed the legumes you will either have rapoko and maize and leaf crops, the crops with bigger leaves.
You see its very strictly this rotation but now you have even some of them growing tobacco but most of it now it is growing now kuma A1 farmers and devoting perhaps a hectare or two hectares. For now most of them it’s still just about 1 hectare of tobacco and they are growing tobacco systematically. They get advice, is it Kushinga Research? They get advice there as to the kind of tobacco.
Virginia is on the vision too. This is Virginia, this is Virginia that is virginia you know it needs curing and its there where we have a problem.
Now they do not have the resources of curing other than wood so they cut down trees. Nyaya yanga tichifunga kuti takapedza patakavamba independence yedu like the chief, headmen and they all agreed to prevent the cutting down of trees and bush in areas which have become near-deserts.
It started, you know, growing up and blooming with bush and re-growing, of cutting down of trees and becoming green again. And if you have seen the state yekwaChihota, kwaChirumhanzu, Mhondoro and you go there now unoshama kuti aah, the years of independence, it’s really happening in the grass, tall grass for the cattle but now has come another danger to the forest and bush, the cutting down of trees in order to get fuel to burn the tobacco, but we are trying to urge the A1 farmers to use coal instead.
I hope we can succeed and are not bought and in the areas where they are but we must prevent that and even punish people who cut down trees. So anywhere there, tobacco is thriving, cotton — yes — we thought we were recovering, but people have given up and started growing tobacco and also even in Matabeleland. And then you have the A2 farmers, those are commercial farmers.
I think the farms we gave the people are too large, they can’t manage them, as such most of them are probably able to use probably 1/3 for purposes of cropping but of course we are people who love beasts, who love cattle, to those who do not have beasts, if you do not have two beasts you are not a man? Are you a man?
You are not judged, your manhood is not judged by the fact that you can make children, you must make children in an environment in which you may provide for them and the backbone of the family is the cattle you will have, even if you have three or four at least you will say I have some, I am building up. But if you have zero you are a zero man and don’t even look at me in face because you don’t know how to become a man.
CC: Yes, your Excellency, the ruling party had amended its constitution, it has removed it from the clause of the second one of the second vice presidents as a woman . . .
RGM: Ah, have we removed it? I do not think we have removed it. We just ignored it for now because of the circumstances when a woman, she grew too ambitious, did not want to bid her time to see the President either retire or die soon after the elections, she wanted to take over even the time, the strategy. The man has just won the election, you want to push him out.
You think it is that easy, or you think because he is 90 years old, 90 tonnes and now he is going to be 91 even, 91 tonnes right here.
Hameno akavafurira Mai ava tisu takasanovaisa munzvimbo not because she was qualified, there were many men who were more experienced and more capable.
And there she was and we wanted to groom her there and yah, I suppose the fact that she has gone to university she has become a doctor of some learning and she thought, oh I can now become President. It’s not those things which count.
They only count afterwards. You must be a person with the capacity, necessary capacity and experience. Apart from that you must be a disciplinarian, obedient to the rules of the party. A good disciplinarian is the one who first applies discipline to himself or herself. You apply it to oneself you don’t go against the rules of the party. You follow the rules of the party, You obey the hierarchy of the party you don’t plan a coup worse still planning for assassination. We haven’t done so.
When we differed in Zapu, we said we differed, and we talked about it and we decided to form another party, ZANU. So there was ZANU and there was Zapu we went to the election and true the people supported us and we got 57 seats out of 80 seats that were assigned in the Constitution, in the Agreement yekuLancaster House to the Africans.
The 20 seats were reserved for the whites. So out of the 80 we got 57 and Zapu got 20. So we still said we are the Patriotic Front. Let’s put our seats together. So 57 plus 20 we have what is the number 77 and the whites said 20 and that makes it 97 and the three seats, Reverend Muzorewa was blessed by the Almighty, he got three seats for his trouble.
The Boers in South Africa had given him three helicopters so each helicopter managed to get him one seat. So there it was and the people who had sacrificed the most who had established ZANLA and ZIPRA. I don’t want to talk about it and the British didn’t want their sons and daughters, the whites to be humiliated that quickly I wish we were given 20 seats and we must not fight for those seats there are just for the whites , discrimination, racialism at an election time so we have reorganised we said fine 20-20, but in those 20 could last only for 7 years after seven years we could change so there were meant not to mix with the white whip it went after 7 years anything can happen they could join the other parties or they could stand on their own and fight for the common seats now.
Anywhere that’s, that and our women we did a lot for our women we said from day one equal work men women doing the same work equal pay.
CC: You have spoken out very strongly against factionalism and factional leaders. At this moment do you feel that the party has dealt decisively with the demon of factionalism?
RGM: No there is lots of it, lots of it, we haven’t dealt with, addressed the factionalism as it has existed. Kwainzi kune vekwa Mai Mujuru kwoita vekwa Minister Mnangangwa when he was still a Minister. Vekwa Minister Mnangagwa havana kuvhurumuka, kuvhurumukira kuti vatore huPresident, vakangoti tonho. Ava vekumudzimai uyu ndivo vakaita mashiripiti kuenda kun’anga, kunotora maNigerians kuti vauye muno, vachiuraiswa huku, hwai ne ropa kumapurazi ikoku, kuti yafa iyi ndiMugabe, yafa iyi mukadzi wake, yafa iyi ndiMnangagwa, iyi yafa iyi, vese, muchaona kufa kwavanoita, ma Nigerians iwayo vakachenjera and you pay them for all that nonsense.
Saka muri kupira here hwai dzamuri kuuraya kuna Mwari achazoti tanzwa chichemo chenyu chipiro chenyu chekuti vafe vachazorabuka, ko vaMugabe havanawo Mwari wavo? Inga vanoendawo ku church vachikumbira Mwari kuti avape hutano kuti tive nerunyararo tirege kuva nemagandanga anouraya vamwe, so that’s the difference, kunoita vamwe vanoda mapower, zvino ava vadhara vangu ava vekwaMakoni vanga vozvuvawo makumbo seni, hameno.
Tiri kunzwa kuti they want to establish their own party, hanzi they want it to be called Zanu-PF, ah ah ah its already Zanu-PF in existence, hanzi ours will be Zanu Patriotic First, haiwaiwa, kungoda PF chete iyoyo kuti irambe iripo? Of course that’s nonsense, even the court will throw that away and say there is no difference, mwana wekwanhingi.
Wekwabhururu wangu Tsvangirai vakaita njere zvikanzi aiwa isu ndisu MDC, tangoita chete renew, asi ndisu tatanda Tsvangirai, ndobva vaita meeting yavo yekutanda Tsvangirai, Tsvangirai ndokuita yake yokuvatandawo ivo. Zvino vatanda vamwe ndevapiko? Zvino ndiri kunzwa kuti vaMutasa vari kuti isu ndisu Zanu chaiyo, iyi iripo iyi its illegal, saka isu tese tiri illegal, ko ivo varikupiko, iripiko Zanu yavo hatisi kuiona? Anyway it’s a kind of ambition, come foolishness, you are in a party that has done well at a recent election, marvellously well and you want to divide that party? Are we ashamed, no.
We have appointed two Vice Presidents, yes we have not appointed one because just now we want to remedy a situation, but it doesn’t mean that the future cannot see a woman appointed as Vice President, no. The constitution will not say the women cannot, the women can fight even in general, in the ordinary way like everybody else in the party to be elected to any position in the party.
This was an affirmative action yatakaita yekuti where there are 3 appointees padepartment or section yedepartment one must be a woman. That was to try and facilitate, accelerate the base of women improvement, but there are no tears anywhere on the part of the Party. No one is shedding tears, if anything there is jubilation that n’ang’a dziye . . . dzakarangwa zvakakwana.
Of course there are lots of them, other people who belong to the group, some were being told that President varikuzo retire just now and Mai Mujuru vari kuita take over since ndivo vanga vari Vice voga. Saka vamwe vakavamba kuti okay tozvigadzira tingade kuti tizova nezvigaro zvakati saka we don’t take issues with those people because vanga vafuririka vafurirwa kuti chokwadi the President was going, vamwe vaibva vaudzwa kuti President vakatiudza kuti vava ku retire, mazviona, so vakazotendera izvozvo vachi supporter kuti fine kana zvirizvo we support change, we prepare for change, they didn’t do any wrong, and so we can’t go hunting everybody, no, but we know those who started being anti-the-President, anti-Mugabe sana Kaukonde and vaiitwa misuse vana Mliswa nasekuru vake vaMutasa.
VaMutasa was in my office, I didn’t even know where he had gone, takagadzira tese, we sat at meetings preparing for congress together. Ndiye aitova secretary for Administration ndichimubvunza kuti zviri kufamba sei achiti zviri kunaka, then just a few days before congress I don’t see the person, ko aenda kupi, he didn’t tell me anything, tozoudzwa navaParirenyatwa kuti vaMutasa vandifonera vati vakaita BP.
Ko kana vaita BP vobva vatadza kuudza President. You are not just secretary for Administration, you are also Minister in the President’s Office in charge of security. It doesn’t matter how disappointed you are, at least you must say that you are going.
CC: Looking at this Your Excellency, we have seen in the last year the entry of Dr Amai into the deep politics, has this in any way changed the family and the other question did you sanction her entry into politics?
RGM: No, I never sanctioned anyone, even my sisters I used to tell them, kana muchida kuita politics don’t ever say matumwa neni, aiwa, it’s up to you. Go into politics if you so want, but I will not say, I will not push you into politics, no. The same uya akati madzimai andivinga vari kuti ndivatungamirire zvikanzi ndobvuma here ndikati it’s up to you to decide and she talked to other women later and she said okay they are insistent, I think I go along, so it was her own choice but of course kumba tinotaura politics kuti zvinhu zvakamira sei kana huny’any’a, huroyi hwanga huripo tinototaura we share ideas, so when she went out ini ndaitoti maiwe maiwe vataura too early, vakanyeteswa, vakamboita meeting zvakanakanaka but mheno kwakazonoridzwa ngoma vachimunyetesa ndozvakazotushurwa ndikati inga atushura tanga takamira kuti tichazvitaura nenguva yazvo but it was just a swerve.
CC: And now coming from another angle, they say the First Lady is now the power behind your throne and (interrupted) . . .
RGM: She is not the power behind my throne, she has come into politics in her own right.
CC: And some sections of the media would want people to believe that she is now driving both the party and Government decision making process (interrupted) . . .
RGM: Why? Where? She has only appeared on behalf of the women. The women asked her to go round telling people that she has agreed and addressing people, that’s all she did. But people see a lot in that, why, why should they think that because of what she has done she is now the power? She has come here into the real heart of things, she has attended one meeting ye Politburo, she couldn’t attend it fully because she is not yet strong enough but we admitted her into the Politburo as the leader of the women, and the leader of the Youths, automatically become members of the Politburo and that’s all.
But I suppose the dynamism with which she came out, started giving people all kinds of ideas, vamwe vachiti she is to be the successor, she is the driving force behind the President and all the things the President is doing. No, we have our machinery of the Party which continues to work, we decide, we discuss. Now that I have two Vice Presidents I get ideas and we share, this is what we take to the Politburo.
CC: Your Excellency, historically you look at yourself, most of the attacks that have been coming from the western world, from the ‘independent’ media has been directed to you, all the fire was coming to you, now there appears now that First Lady has come in, she is beginning to take fire, as husband do you feel hurt?
RGM: No? Feel hurt? Why feel hurt? More hurt than before?
CC: That she is now beginning to take the fire.
RGM: Unjustified attacks, well, we dislike but we have known to absorb some. I have always said if you want to stay in politics, and I was telling Mutasa this also, you must have an inside built system ye absorbing mainsult ese.
If you don’t have that absorptive system then in politics as a leader you just get heart failure but we have been hardened.
Vana Ian Smith handled us very roughly, thrust us into prison, we went into situations of hardships, mumasango tichidya very poor food and so on and ikoko kuine ma insults akowo from the others vanenge vachiti ambitious guy even maFront Line States vaitituka but isu taingoziva you know, your commitment that’s all. Unosungirwa kuita ganda regakata.
You should be hardened. If any insult in the paper, abuse in the paper sends you to bed and you have a sleepless night then you are not for it, you are not a person we can rely upon as a politician, you must be courageous, have courage and yes they come, they rebound the insults, the abuses. The British have said and done all they could but you stick to principle, you say, you must stand on principle of course. If you are standing on principle then you get shaken and if you are not solid in your stand you can also be easily bought nemari.
CC: Your Excellency, the issue of succession always crops up, for some within and outside the party saying or feeling that you now have a choice of someone to take over when you choose to retire.
RGM: Have a choice? The Party has a choice, not me. I don’t choose, I have said I don’t choose my successor, never. I will discuss, with others, yes, members of the Politburo, those I regard as wise people, who can we support. When Mphoko finally got hitched and when we appointed him, I had listened to lots of views dzevanhu, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, vese kuvabvunza and tichi compare.
Vamwe vaifunga kuti SK was going to get it, vamwe vachiti SK has no record chaiyo ye struggle. Vamwe vakazopindawo vachiti Mohadi, I talked to Mohadi, I talked to Mphoko, I talked to SK, I talked naMsipa, vese veku Zapu side and finally to me the man who had a good record in the past and a record which sustained his drive up to the end was Mphoko. It was Mphoko versus Mohadi. Mohadi when I asked him he said Mphoko yes I agree, his instructor at one time but he said now he is Ambassador and I am a Minister who has more experience, ndozvaakataurawo. I told SK that no he was viewed by many as part of the gamatox thing, that he was very close kunana Mutasa nana Mai Mujuru but we couldn’t just dump everybody, others we want to give a chance, we gave them a chance but we abolished the chairmanship as it was.
One of the Vice Presidents will be Chairman of the Party and that’s how we used to have it in the past anyway, takazounza chairmanship at the time yatakaita December 1987 Agreement yedu, Unity Agreement tichiti vaNkomo va Vice President. Now ku Party kwavo anga ari Vice President ndavaMsika, so we decided to have another position yachairman, tomuisa huChairman, ndopakazovamba hwuChairman tanga tisisinahwo. Although when we found it, Zanu-PF, we had made Chitepo the Chairman of the Party, but we lost it 1977 when we discussed kuChimoio the restructuring and revival of the Party, vakomana vakanga vasungwa ku Zambia vabuda.
So I talked to them and to others and got a few, that’s how I operate, I don’t just do on my own. Ah so is my successor, know you people of Zimbabwe that so and so who is, who occupies this position will be my successor. A successor can come from any level of the Party but usually the top levels, the Central Committee, the Politburo.
It may not be either of the VPs, it’s up to the people who choose who they think, at the particular time is the most suitable candidate for the Presidency, vo discusser ka. That’s how it should be. I was not appointed successor by anyone. Our own tradition haisi yekuti nhaka yangu ichazogarwa nani, haisi nhaka yemunhu ka iyi, anyway that’s that.
CC: Thank you very much, at this point we take a short break.
CC: Welcome back Your Excellency
RGM: Thank you.
CC: Just as we were talking before we went for a break, we were talking about what was happening in the liberation struggle, in 1976 we had the Vashandi rebellion taking place, there is another rebellion round about 1978 just around the time of the Malta Conference. Rugare Gumbo is among the rebels and today the same Rugare Gumbo is fingered in the plot to oust you from power. He accuses you of being an unforgiving person. This story has never really been told in full. Briefly what happened then and is there any core relationship with events of 2014?
RGM: Well, it is the same, wanting to repeat himself, what he doesn’t know is that I was personally responsible for getting him back and even for giving him that position which he had. Some people wondered whether I was doing the right thing, for a new person we make him the position ya Secretary for, was it information? Right, and he was using that position then in Mberengwa to get people to support him and achiti ndini ndava mukuru wezvakati muPolitburo, that’s when I said the positions we are giving you, some are younger people than those others we had in the struggle but we are giving you these positions because we want the energy in you to benefit us and the people in your working harder for the Party, but that’s not a recognition of the positions as we used to know them.
That’s why the likes of vana Webster Shamu vari muCommissariat vari vakuru kuma Provinces kwese but tichiti hukuru hwako hweuCommissar haukurire hukuru hwevamwe vanoita hold lower positions muParty, so don’t think you are superior to them and they recognised it most of them, but he did not and I didn’t know, you see, he has some kind of vengeance. I guess vana Mnangagwa and others were (responsible) for his defeat kuMberengwa and he carries that into the Party.
I have had no real act of retribution against him and for that matter when we all were back from Mozambique on the eve of the election in 1980, the late Cde Muzenda and I discussed the political fate of those we held in prison in Mozambique because ivo vese ndeve 77 /78 Anglo-American proposals ndopavakaita, the Hamadziripi, Rugare Gumbo, attempted coup d’etat. I think we were going to Malta and because we imprisoned them, the first group yana Dzino, we handed over to the Mozambicans, but this group now takati we will imprison them ourselves and takachera gomba pasi, deep, as deep as here, pari pasi kugadzira imba ipapo nekuisa zvimibhedha ipapo mukati macho so taivapa sadza vari mugomba iroro ratakanga tachera remba ye prison and we didn’t even tell Samora this time about them at all, we kept them imprisoned 77 to 78, but vakazobuda 1980.
Lord Sommes who was operating from here said he wanted these to come out first, achifunga kuti tikavaburitsa ivava first vanoita mbiri yekuti vanga vakasungwa vobva vatora great support but you will know of, if you don’t know of the crowds that greeted Nkomo and myself, first Nkomo, Nkomo came first then I came later kuHighfield, right, Soames told Samora to release them first and Samora said no, I will not release them, ini ndainzi no, I should not come, I should not come, na Lord Soames at that time, I should not come yet, why, because he wanted his people out first, so Samora said I can only release them if you will agree that group ye Zanu-PF led by President Mugabe to also return at the same time, that’s what happened. So we were released, we were released, you know, Soames agreed, so we came back same day.
Now when we were here vaMuzenda and myself talked of the matter of their political future and we said fine we imprison them, I think lets go and ask them together vaive vekuJameson Hotel, ah kuMonomotapa, we have a meeting with them, so we had a meeting navo vana Hamadziripi, iye Rugare Gumbo and others tikati we want you now to join us, zvikanzi mationei handiti makange mambotiramba mazotionei, maona kuti tava nesupport, tikati no, we just want you to join us and come back to where you used to belong, zvikanzi aiwa nekuti maona zvino kuti tine vanhu vari kutitevera, tikati hoo okay go your way.
So he went there, the way of Hamadziripi went the Muzorewa way, he went I think the Sithole way and Sithole got zero naChikeremawo zero. Muzorewa akabuda nenhatu dzandanga ndichitaura dzema helicopter ake pama elections, so they knew they had lost, so they were in the wilderness and Hamadziripi died in that wilderness. Iye aiti you come please to a funeral, I said no am sorry he died, but I will not go to a funeral.
Takamuti okay, you come and join, ndopaakauya. It was not Mai Mujuru who brought him, it was Cde Muzenda and myself and that nonsense he is writing is just misplaced. I didn’t have any rancour, he had his own fights with Cde Mnangagwa and the others were saying no he wanted to do his own thing outside, you know, the Provincial Executive programme.
Ndozvavairwisana kuti kuMberengwa ikoko he wanted to do his own thing but iyewo achiti no vanhu varikuitwa intimidate navana Mnangagwa and so on. So they have their fight, Provincial fight ikoko ku Province kwavo, I was surprised. Ndaiti in fact he had acquired this animosity towards me. I think it is just a fact that he was now very close kunaMai Mujuru and being that close he had to share of course, the fact that Mai Mujuru wanted me out and you don’t want some person out without alleging something and the allegation is quite a false one. Anywhere he is there, he is the man who was talking about doing to me what those youngsters did to Kabila, Baba, and saying it loudly, its recorded, ngatimuite hwaKabila, and just luck, even for, you know, security, the sense of security yake very loose, unenge uchitaura izvozvo zvokuti tinogona kumuuraya publicly unofunga kuti vanhu vanozvitora sei, vanokuvhundukaka kuti ndopfungwa dzaunadzo idzi, anywhere, he is an incorrigible person and we leave him as that incorrigible person but of course we continue to watch what he is doing and what his intentions are.
CC: Finally Your Excellency, you have been subject of vilification by the West for a decade and a half yet both Sadc and recently the African Union reposed their faith in your leadership, do you feel justified or vindicated for your life long stance and fight against colonialism and neo-colonialism and do you think that this is an indication that Africa is ready for a swing back to its roots to the golden age of the founding fathers?
RGM: Yes, I feel very much vindicated, the stand I have held, the stand of principle, I am a Zimbabwean, I belong to Zimbabwe, the resources in my country are our resources. We are a sovereign country and our independence and sovereignty is equal to the independence and sovereignty of any country in the world.
Small though we are, those are the principles that guided me, I stood by them. The land is ours, it’s not British land and that’s why I said to Blair, he can keep his England, we keep our land because Zimbabwe does not belong to the British anymore, it belongs to the people of Zimbabwe and as a people of Zimbabwe we must develop our natural resources without hindrance from any quarter, so imperialism and colonialism have no place in Zimbabwe and down with it, down with imperialism, down with colonialism and that’s the stand our people took, majority of them.
The others were shaky, uchiona kuti munhu uyu ari kutiendesa kwatichange tichitambudzika, yes, takaendesa vanhu kwavakatambudzika but kutambudzikira nyika yavoka and I could never equate the degree of suffering equal to that which saw lots of youngsters die for their country, lots of people in various areas in keeps, out of keeps were killed, being subjected to suffering by the imperialists during the liberation struggle and so our people endured it and our people managed to stick to their resources especially land and this is what imperialists don’t know about us, that our survival is not equal to the survival of persons in urban areas with no resource recourse to any other possible source of survival.
We are not that fully urbanised. We have one leg in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and another leg kwaMurewa, kwaMtoko, kwaZvimba, kwaGutu, we do not regard Harare, the majority of us as our home, we regard Zvimba, Gutu, Murewa, Mtoko as our homes and there is our survival, we eat with our people in the bush, in the reserves, as I was saying you are not a man without some cattle because we are rural in a sense, rural people as well, and this is why we have not fallen.
If we were entirely dependent on resources that are brought into town and we no longer had homes in the rural areas, we would have perished long ago but with that ability given to us by our own system, women and men also in the informal sector ensured that they use their hands, they use their brains and survived and today we see to the surprise of the whites, we are even better in spite of sanctions, then the country will not have sanctions in Africa.
We are much more highly educated than any other country in Africa if not in the whole of the developing world and you wonder how we did it and also we are a people with energies, full of energy, full of the desire to work. We are hard workers. You don’t just say there is this problem and sit and allow the problem to eat you up and kill you, no, you say I must get means of survival, and fortunately we have them kumusha.
Yes, other people, even our people in Africa are surprised that we survived, but there are even more surprises that I resisted to the end and did not give in because of the machinations of our enemies, I didn’t surrender to them because of that.
Yes, it was painful, painful in mind and body to be restricted by some people who have no business, you know, to be doing those things that we have done on your country and on yourselves, just the fact that some people in Europe and in America say thou shall not go to this place or that place is completely undesirable and completely against international law, so because of our own action here because of also the fact that the sanctions were unmerited and undeserved, illegal and completely unjust and unjustifiable, we are what we are and that’s why we say we shall never be a colony again.
We can tell the British that to their face, we are not afraid of them, they are afraid of us in a sense, small as we are. Yes Africa must have equal commitment and equal degree of sacrifice if first we are to preserve Africa for the Africans, African resources for Africa, I must create that environment, environment of freedom and independence and co-operate in that environment as Africans, put our resources together and build Africa from our resources.
Yes, with the help of those countries which would want to be associated with us on equal terms. So I think we have been an encouragement to Africa, a pride also to Africa and this is why Africa unanimously voted us as Chair of the African Union.
They are proud of us. Go anywhere else you will hear how they praise Zimbabwe just because of the stand that we took against the British and their allies and I do hope that our young people will learn from us and be tomorrow the purveyors of the legacy of our freedom and independence with equal determination to stand against imperialism, equal determination to fight for the retention of the hard won independence so it is not interfered with by outsiders that they can make friends, yes, with outsiders, with foreigners, provide the foreigners, agree on equal terms to be their allies, and so we say to our young people take care of future of our legacy and don’t let those who are gone, who have died to create it, don’t let them down.
CC: Your Excellency, at this moment, I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of ZBC news and current affairs and on my own behalf to thank you very much for affording us this opportunity to host you on the occasion of your 91st Birthday on this special programme Reflections at 91. Once more Your Excellency, Happy Birthday and many happy returns.
RGM: I thank you very much and I thank the people of Zimbabwe for the best wishes which they have sent me, good wishes and I return them by saying God bless you all and God bless Zimbabwe, God bless Africa. Thank you.