Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
President Mugabe has said he is still fully in charge of affairs in both Zanu-PF and the Government and dismissed media reports that the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe is now the power behind the throne.The President said this in a wide-ranging interview with ZBC on the programme, “Reflections at 91” whose first part was screened yesterday to mark his 91st birthday.
He said the First Lady’s ascension to Zanu-PF Secretary of Women Affairs did not mean she was now the one in charge.
“She is not the power behind my throne, she has come into politics in her own right,” President Mugabe said.
“She has just appeared on behalf of the women and the women asked her to go around addressing people and she agreed and went round, that’s all she did.”
The President said the manner in which the First Lady entered politics did not mean she was now driving State power, adding that the ruling party had vibrant structures that shared ideas.
“Why should they (media) think that because of what she has done she is now the power?” he said.
“She has not come yet into the real part of things. She has just attended one Politburo meeting, which she did not attend fully because she is not yet strong.
“Because of the dynamism with which she came out, it started giving people ideas vamwe vachiti she is now the power behind the party, she is now running what the President is doing. But we have the machinery of the party, we discuss, we decide and now that we have two vice presidents we share ideas.”
The First Lady led the exposure of shenanigans by former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her cabal that were plotting to oust President Mugabe during her rallies which she undertook before the Zanu-PF 6th National People’s Congress in December last year after being nominated for the post of Secretary for Women’s Affairs.
Apart from unearthing the plot against the President, the First Lady also exposed Cde Mujuru’s illicit deals and corrupt activities.
Cde Mujuru and 16 other ministers and deputy ministers that were part of her cabal were eventually sacked from the Government and lost their seats in the Central Committee and subsequently the Politburo.
In the interview with ZBC, President Mugabe, who turned 91 last Saturday, also said he was not behind Amai Mugabe’s entrance into politics.
“I have never sanctioned anyone, even my sisters, I used to tell them if you want politics musati matumwa neni,” he said. “I will not push
anyone. She came to me and said madzimai varikuda kuti ndivatungamire and I said it’s up to you.”
President Mugabe said even before she came into mainstream politics, he always discussed political issues with the First Lady at home.
He said the ruling party had not amended its constitution to remove the clause that a woman should occupy one of the vice presidency posts, but said the circumstances that preceded last year’s 6th National People’s Congress contributed to the failure to appoint a woman as vice president.
“I don’t think we have removed it (constitutional clause on women being vice president), but we have just ignored it,” President Mugabe said. “We have appointed vice presidents and we have not appointed a woman because we want to rein in the situation, but it doesn’t mean in the future there will be no woman.”
Vice Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko were appointed to the posts at the Congress.
The President said women were also free to contest for any post in the party, adding that Government and the ruling party were committed to improving the plight of women as seen by the various policies adopted since independence.
President Mugabe said Cde Mujuru was hard done by her ambitions.
“The woman grew ambitious and did not want to buy her time to see the President either retire or die,” he said. “The man has just won an election and you want to remove him, you think it is that easy.
“Hameno akavafurira amai ava, ndisu takatsanovaisa pachinzvimbo not that she qualified, there were men who were better qualified than her, but we wanted to groom her there.”
President Mugabe said the former vice president thought that because she had attained university education she was now fit to be a President.
“She went to university, now she has become a doctor and thought now I can be a President,” he said. “It is not those things that count, you must be a person with capacity and experience apart from that you must be disciplined and obedient.
“You follow procedures of the party, you don’t go against the rules of the party, you abide with the rules of the party, you respect the hierarchy and not plan a coup de tat, worse still an assassination.”
President Mugabe said Zanu-PF had not yet finished addressing the issue of factionalism that came to the fore before the 6th National People’s Congress.
“No, there is lots of it,” he said. “We haven’t addressed factionalism as it had existed, kwainzi kune vekwaMai Mujuru, nevekwaMinister Mnangagwa, when he was still a minister. VekwaMnangagwa havana kuvhurumukira kuti vatore hupresident.
“Ava vemudzimai ndivo vakaita mashiripiti vakauraya huku, hwai, neropa kumapurazi ikoko, iyi yafa iyi ndeyaMugabe, iyi yafa iyi ndeyemukadzi wake, iyi yafa ndeyaMnangagwa, maNigerians iwayo, that’s how clever they are and paid for that nonsense.
“Saka murikupira kuna Mwari here? Ko VaMugabe havanawo Mwari wavo? Inga vanoendawo kuchurch kuti vawane hutano, kuti kuve nerunyararo kusave nemagandanga anouraya vamwe.”
On former secretary for Administration Mr Didymus Mutasa, President Mugabe scoffed at his attempts to form a party.
“Zvino ava vadhara vangu vekwaMakoni vanga vozvuvawo makumbo seni, we hear they want to form their own party, hanzi they want to call it Zanu-PF First, just to retain the PF. Even the courts will throw away that nonsense,” President Mugabe said.
On the economy, President Mugabe said it was important that the country looks at Zim-Asset, the Government’s economic blueprint, holistically.
“You must look at Zim-Asset as all embracing, it is not just industry, it is agriculture, infrastructure, mining,” he said. “It is the manufacturing sector that is letting us down and in a sense the mining sector which is not as controlled as it used to be.”
President Mugabe bemoaned the leakages in the mining industry and said Government was particularly concerned with the diamond mining sector where it is working on re-aligning the sector so that Government plays a major role.
“The diamond industry, we are re-organising so that we have the State with one or two partners, that is how it is in South Africa and in Botswana,” he said. “So, we are re-organising that, but it will take us some time to be in full swing.”
President Mugabe said Government had managed to obtain information on the diamond sector that had been hidden by the South African company De-Beers.
“We know of diamonds that had been discovered by De-Beers and they had taken it kunana Wits University and fortunately there are some people who are clever who stole the papers and have given them to us so now we have the papers,” President Mugabe said.
He said it was of paramount importance that indigenous people took control of their minerals in the same way they had re-possessed their land.
“Africans must take ownership of mining in the same way we have taken ownership of land and agriculture,” he said. “So, you have to look at Zim-Asset from the point of view of multiple facets that we are pursuing to develop our economy and our people.”
President Mugabe said this year’s harvest could be lower than expected due to the prolonged dry spell in most parts of the country.
“We thought this year we would have a good season, but apparently our hopes are being dashed,” he said. “February vakuru vaiti inguva yeKubvumbi, mubvumbi wemvura, but now it’s not, it’s now sunshine.”
President Mugabe said concerted efforts should be made to ensure farmers ventured into wheat farming, taking advantage of the abundant water resources in the country.
On new farmers, he said productivity was low because some of them were given huge farms they were failing to fully utilise.
“The A2 farmers, I think the farms we gave to people are too large, they can’t manage them,” he said. “You find that most of them are just using one third of the land.”
President Mugabe attributed his long life to eating well and keeping himself in good physical condition through exercises.