HARARE - President Robert Mugabe yesterday said he was a worried and overworked old man, adding that he was having many sleepless nights as a result.
Speaking at Kutama Mission’s Centenary celebrations in Zvimba, the frail-looking nonagenarian told the gathered current and former students that he had arrived late for the event because he had only slept for two hours on Saturday night.
“I want to thank you all for coming. I was disjointed because we came back at midnight yesterday. I had two hours of sleep and ... I have the habit that if I have something that worries my mind, my mind FROM P1
sleeps on it and I constantly jump out of sleep and say is it not time, is it not time. That is why we were a bit late in coming to this function,” Mugabe said.
However, Mugabe — Africa’s oldest leader — did not say what it was that was troubling him.
Among the issues stressing the legendary globetrotter are the rising political tensions in the country, a worsening economic situation, deadly infighting in Zanu PF, a sick wife and his own failing health associated with old age.
The nonagenarian, who once again attended yesterday’s function without his wife Grace, went on to make a typical blunder in his dotage, saying his late brother Michael was born in 1999.
“Michael was born in 1999, then there was Rafael who was born in 1922, and my mother said he never lived long and he died of diarrhoea after six months. I was born in 1924,” Mugabe said.
However, just a few minutes before making this latest faux pas, the nonagenarian also said Michael was born in 1919.
“My family started in 1919 when my brother Michael was born and he died in 1934 after taking some poison. He used a cup reserved for sprinkling pesticide to drink water and he died from the poison.
“My father never accepted this explanation and said his son was murdered,” Mugabe said.
Turning to other matters, the president said all A2 farms would be audited because a lot of land was lying idle following his government’s much-criticised fast track land reforms.
“The A1 system is the one which we rely upon most because it yields greater quantities of maize. The A2 has been a struggle and we are going to do an audit on that system.
“It is turning out now that quite a good many of those who hold farms under A2 cannot run them.
“The farms require huge capital and good management and they don’t have it but they are a status symbol to many. I am a farmer, I have a farm but what are you producing?” Mugabe said.
He went on to pour scorn on Pentecostal churches for preaching the gospel of prosperity, saying they were cashing in on desperate citizens.
“We are worried I must say by the downward trend on our morals, the rise in robberies, murders and just the negative side, yet we have so many churches. As for the Pentecostals, anyone who thinks that there is no job can just create one and start preaching. I do such and such, I have an inspirational message, the dream I had last night was that I must do A and B and you will get that in no time.
“Oh! Oh! Oh! And our people that is what they want to see. They are in a hurry to see their demands and needs met. But you must work. Even when Adam was punished he was told that he will have to till the land in order to survive. We have to work,” he added.
Mugabe said Kutama Mission had helped him to be a principled man, adding that he would never compromise on his values and beliefs.
“In terms of the political life, the issue of principle has been fundamental. We rely more on people who stick to principle than those who waver.
“The Americans, the likes of Andrew Young, used to describe me saying, oh he is Jesuit, and add that he is also a Marxist. We were never communist but there are principles that we have to stick to. When you talk of a country and its sovereignty there is a principle that the citizens of that country have the right of ownership of the natural resources. We do not compromise on that principle,” Mugabe said.