Felex Share Senior Reporter
President Mugabe is a resilient person whose desire is to see the African continent developed in every aspect, visiting former Tanzanian president Dr Benjamin Mkapa said yesterday.
Dr Mkapa, who arrived in Zimbabwe on Monday for a week-long visit, toured the Gushungo Dairy Estate, the Amai Mugabe Junior School and the children’s home in Mazowe run by First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe.
President of Tanzania from 1995 to 2005, Dr Mkapa was accompanied by wife, Anna.
He spoke of his admiration of President Mugabe as a great statesman.
“In terms of resistance, no one equals Cde Mugabe,” Dr Mkapa said.
“He has shown resistance against colonialism, resistance against imperialism and resistance against underdevelopment. He is terrific and I have great respect for him.”
He said the philanthropic projects being carried out in Mazowe are testimony that Africans were able to stand on their own despite vilification by Western countries.
“Thank you (Amai Mugabe) for this morning because it has been a learning and relaxing experience,” Dr Mkapa said.
“But what we have seen is a great learning experience. It shows that it can be done. It shows that if you put service before self you can achieve a lot. That is what we have witnessed here.”
He described the school as a “master class” adding that by embarking on the project, Amai Mugabe was investing for the benefit of future generations.
“It is good that they are starting their education life in this environment,” he said.
“Keep it up. You will leave a true legacy not only in this province but the country as a whole.”
Amai Mugabe told Dr Mkapa that her projects were a shining example of Zimbabwe’s land reform programme and things Zimbabweans “can do against all odds”.
“The country is under siege, there are sanctions that they have imposed on us but we are trying to make things work, to eke out a living for ourselves and the nation,” she said.
“We hope you will be ambassadors because the world is used to having negativities about Zimbabwe.”
Amai Mugabe said since Zimbabwe relied on agriculture, Government was working hard to resuscitate irrigation schemes countrywide in response to the challenges posed by climate change.
“We depend on farming but unfortunately rains here have not done well and we are experiencing a devastating drought,” the First Lady said.
“People tried planting but the crops wilted because of the weather conditions and a lot of farmers have lost their livestock. We are told to date more than 20 000 cattle have died since the season started and we are actually feeling that climate change is upon us. Government is trying everything possible to avail agricultural equipment so that people continue with their farming.”
She added: “We have the capacity, people are well versed with agriculture and they can do the farming. We have no pollution here. Yes, we have the industries that slightly pollute the air but we breathe clean air and we try to ensure we keep our environment clean for future generations.”
She chronicled to Dr Mkapa how the philanthropic projects were established and how she got help from the Chinese government and other well-wishers.
Today Dr Mkapa is expected to meet with President Mugabe and tomorrow he will officiate at the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) renaming ceremony of a block which will be named Julius Nyerere House.
Dr Mkapa is on Friday expected to deliver a lecture at the Zimbabwe Defence College before touring selected sites in Manicaland in the afternoon.