From Samuel Kadungure in KIGALI, Rwanda
Zimbabwe should take a leaf from Rwanda’s post-genocide reconciliation model as it embarks on its own healing process, President Mnangagwa has said. In an interview at Kigali International Airport after attending the Rwanda Liberation Day at Amahoro National Stadium, President Mnangagwa said despite experiencing one of the most horrific ethnic clashes in contemporary world history, Rwanda is now one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, enjoying unity and peace after it successfully managed to bury its painful past.
Presidents Dr Hage Geingob (Namibia), Faure Gnassingbe (Togo), Faustin-Archange Touadera (Central Africa Republic), Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo (Somalia), Julius Maada Bio (Sierra Leone) and Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi (Botswana) also attended the liberation Silver Jubilee.
“It’s an exceptional experience of reconciliation. Twenty-five years ago Rwanda could have been torn to pieces. But then President Kagame rescued the situation, and has built a proud, united and integrated Rwanda. This should be a lesson to the rest of African Union (AU) member states.
“We still have member states of AU with such internal problems. So, the experience of Rwanda could be a classic lesson with regards to how you can integrate our nation to speak with one voice, to become sisters and brothers and move forward and put the experiences of the past which are divisive behind. Rwanda has totally succeeded in that regard,” said President Mnangagwa.
The President, who recently told traditional leaders in Bulawayo not to entertain tribalism that led to the Gukurahundi disturbances which culminated in the death of about 20 000 people between 1982 and 1987, said the Rwanda experience reminds him of the Zimbabwean situation.
“In fact, as both the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Rwanda (Dr Richard Sezibera) and President Kagame gave speeches, my mind went back to our own situation back home, and I said if it were possible, you people (journalists) and my communications director (Cde George Charamba), could broadcast these statements back home it would assist us in our endeavour to unite Zimbabwe, in the real sense, where there is no east, south, north and central.
“We all belong to one family. It does not matter whether you come from the eastern part of the country, southern or northern part, you all come from Zimbabwe. That was a solid message that Rwanda has achieved, and I think it is not an easy job, but it’s something to emulate to achieve, to strive to achieve and it can only be done with political will to do so. If the will is weak, merchants of division will continue to thrive, but if there is a strong political will to deal with these issues, I think we can succeed,” said President Mnangagwa.
Turning to the National Environment Cleaning Day that he will headline in Domboshava today, President Mnangagwa said the decision to introduce the national clean-up day was borrowed from Rwanda during his visit to the country last year.
“I came here last year and saw how Rwanda has maintained (its cleanliness) and I conceived the idea to start that road journey to achieve cleanliness throughout our country. We started the journey in December last year, and I am pleased that if you compare Harare in December last year and now, there is a huge change. And I believe that in another six months or years’ time, we would be very proud Zimbabweans with very clean municipalities, cities and countryside.
“We need to continuously remind ourselves and make sure our people adopt the culture of cleanliness of the environment and of the persons themselves. But beyond that, also the discipline you saw in the stadium. I complimented President Kagame for the discipline in the stadium and also the immaculate performances which happened; it was one theme after the other without any disruption. It was like clockwork.
“Remember we attend these national events back home, in our National Sports Stadium, when you are moving from traditional dancing to another dance it takes time and people start preparing, and so on. I was telling the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister (Dr Sibusiso Moyo) that I am sure you will help me to convey the message home that things must work like clockwork, as we have seen today. I do not know how they have achieved it, but it’s a question of being disciplined and of the desire to achieve excellence, and I think we can achieve it,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said Presidents Gnassingbe, Touadera and Bio have expressed interest to visit Zimbabwe.
President Mnangagwa was seen off at Kigali International Airport by the Rwanda Minister of Environment Dr Vicent Biruta and Zimbabwe embassy officials.
He arrived home yesterday evening and was welcomed by Vice President Mohadi, Defence Minister Michinguri, State and Security Minister Owen Ncube, Chief Secretary Misheck Sibanda, Harare Metropolitan Minister Oliver Chidawo, Service Chiefs among other high-ranking Government officials.