Felex Share and Tendai Mugabe—
FOR the man who will become Zimbabwe’s third president, but the second executive one since independence in 1980, it was an emotional return to the country he fled 16 days ago after receiving intelligence reports about threats on his life in the wake of his unceremonious axing from Government and expulsion from Zanu-PF. And for the hordes of supporters who gathered to welcome him, it was a befitting return for a man who had to go through a lot of unwarranted public chastisement to earn the right to be called Zanu-PF First Secretary and President in-waiting.
The man, Cde Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, was his usual jovial self when he was received by thousands of people who endured the scorching sun at Manyame Air Base before trekking to the Zanu-PF Headquarters for his inaugural public speech after exile. The multitudes, most of them Zanu-PF supporters, waited for several hours before Cde Mnangagwa’s arrival. The crowd was drawn from all the country’s 10 provinces.
Man of the moment Jah Prayzah’s hit songs “Kutonga Kwaro” and “Mudhara Vachauya” kept the crowd entertained. The party supporters were waving placards with various messages that defined a new era in Zanu-PF politics. Some of the placards were inscribed “Welcome back our President”, “Dawn of a New Era” and “Kutonga Kwaro Gamba.” Other placards hailed the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) and their commander, General Constantino Chiwenga, for their timely intervention to stop the deteriorating economic situation in the country.
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Cde Mnangagwa arrived at around 7pm. There were wild cheers the moment he stepped out of the car which engulfed the entire Zanu-PF Headquarters. Cabinet ministers could not hide their joy as some of them took to the dance floor displaying their rare dancing skills. In his first speech as the First Secretary and President of Zanu-PF following his reinstatement as a Central Committee member and subsequent nomination as the party’s leader on Sunday, Cde Mnangagwa pledged servant leadership saying was ready to work with progressive Zimbabweans to rebuild the country.
The duty to transform the economy, he said, is a collective effort that requires the involvement of all Zimbabweans. He pledged to reach out to the international community to canvass their support in rebuilding the economy. “I pledge myself to be your servant,” he said.
“I appeal to all genuine, patriotic Zimbabweans to come together, we work together. No one is more important than the other. We are all Zimbabweans. We want to grow our country. We want peace in our country. We want jobs, jobs, jobs! We need also the cooperation of our neighbours in Sadc, the cooperation of the continent of Africa, we need the cooperation of our friends outside the continent. That we shall achieve. I am already receiving messages of cooperation and support for us to grow our economy.”
Cde Mnangagwa said he was vilified in public but those behind such uncultured behaviour were now victims of their actions. Hama dzangu nhema dzakataurwa dzakawanda zvikanzi topwanya musoro zinyoka iri,” he said.
“Handizivi kuti musoro wakazopwanywa ndewani? Mwari ari kumusoro uko ndiye anoziva, ndiye anotungamirira nyika yake, ndiye anoda vanhu vake. Vanhu vake vachinge vataura sokutaura kwamaita imi, Mwari ataura. Vanenge vane njere tererai zvinoda vanhu hupenyu hwenyu hunowedzerwa munyika yevatema. Ndinokutendai nekushinga nekutsunga kwamaita.”
Cde Mnangagwa thanked Zimbabweans for their profound support after he was unprocedurally expelled both from Government and Zanu-PF two weeks ago. He said there were also attempts on his life including poisoning by those who wanted to see him out of the country’s political circles. “The people of Zimbabwe you who are gathered here to receive me, may I say in the name of our Lord, I thank you for receiving me,” he said.
“Exactly 16 days ago I received a letter firing me from the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe as the Vice President. Within two hours I was informed about plans to eliminate me. Realising that, on the 12th of August this year I was subjected to poisoning which resulted in my being airlifted to South Africa and again I thank you the people of Zimbabwe for your prayers.
“I survived that poisoning. This time around, I said to myself I should not wait for them to eliminate me but let me go out and with you the people of Zimbabwe, the people of Zanu-PF, make your voice be heard. Today, this evening I feel so humbled that you have remained here until this hour at our headquarters waiting for me that I see you and you see me.” Cde Mnangagwa said the counter progressive actions by the G40 cabal in Zanu-PF were seriously affecting Government business.
“The G40 cabal had captured the Executive in the person of our President,” he said.
“Orders were now coming not from the Executive but from people from outside Government to implement and run Government. But the people of Zimbabwe themselves have refused. I think you have heard or read my letter which I sent to the President asking the President saying Mr President the people have spoken. You yourself said if the people say I must step down you shall comply. This is the time to comply because the voice of the people is the voice of God.”
Cde Mnangagwa said his inauguration as President of Zimbabwe was set for tomorrow at the National Sports Stadium where several high-profile dignitaries were expected. In his welcome remarks, Zanu-PF Secretary for Finance Cde Obert Mpofu said the party stood by Cde Mnangagwa during the time he was unjustly persecuted. “This is a historic moment indeed. Events of last week were moving at a lightning speed but at the same time bringing hope to our country,” he said.
“We also want to thank our army which is the most disciplined and educated in the world which helped to remove dictatorship in this country. The man (Cde Mnangagwa) we have been waiting for is finally here. He has returned after a serious threat to his life. You all know how he was humiliated and hounded out of the party but we stood by him to defend the founding values of our party.”
Cde Mnangagwa will become Zimbabwe’s third president but the second executive one after independence taking over from President Mugabe, who resigned on Tuesday after leading the country for 37 years. Meanwhile, Cde Mnangagwa last night chaired his inaugural Politburo meeting as First Secretary and President of Zanu-PF. The meeting was still underway by time of going to print.