Mugabe speaks out

HARARE - Former president Robert Mugabe has spoken out for the first time since his exit, describing his dramatic ouster last November as a "coup d'etat" engineered by ally-turned-foe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa - with the help of the military.

In an interview with South Africa’s SABC yesterday, Mugabe confirmed recent reports by the Daily News of escalating tensions between him and his successor.

He said he never thought Mnangagwa would turn against him and denounced his successor’s move to oust him last year as a coup.

Mugabe, 94, ruled Zimbabwe from independence in 1980 until he stepped down under pressure from Mnangagwa’s allies in the army in November.

Viewed by some as a liberation hero, others remember Mugabe for turning a promising country into an economic basket case and international pariah.

Mnangagwa, deputy president under Mugabe, has promised to open up Zimbabwe to foreign investment and mend ties with the West since assuming power.

“I never thought he whom I had nurtured and brought into government and whose life I worked so hard in prison to save as he was threatened with hanging, that one day he would be the man who would turn against me,” Mugabe said in his first interview since leaving office.

Mnangagwa was convicted of sabotage under white minority rule and sentenced to death. But he was spared the noose because it was deemed that he was too young to be hanged when he had committed the crime.

Mugabe spoke with anger and passion in his first press briefing, saying he was deeply aggrieved with what transpired.

“Today Emmerson is no longer on my side. I’m no longer the president, he is. I called him president the other day and he said, ‘oh no, no, no, please, don’t call me president, call me Emmerson’. I said I can’t call you Emmerson, ok. I said I will call you ED,” he said, speaking in a slurred speech.

He told the Press corp “I hope you will have the views I have shared published.”

Mugabe said he was ousted in a “military takeover” and that Mnangagwa had assumed the presidency illegally.

“I don’t hate Emmerson, I brought him into government. But he must be proper, he is improper where he is. Illegal,” Mugabe said. “We must undo this disgrace, which we have imposed on ourselves. We don’t deserve it.”

“And if he is to correct that illegality, he would want me to discuss with him and we must undo this disgrace which we have imposed on ourselves, we don’t deserve it, we don’t deserve it, please we don’t deserve it, Zimbabwe doesn’t deserve it. We want to be a constitutional country.

“Yes we may have our shortcomings here and there, but overall we must obey the law, become, constitutional.

“People must be chosen to be in government in the proper way. I will discuss, I am willing to discuss, willing to assist in that process, but I must be invited, properly invited for that discussion. Currently, I am isolated and I am glad I have your company,” he said referring to the journalists.

The Press briefing at his home was organised by Jealousy Mawarire, the spokesperson of the National Patriotic Front, led in the interim by retired brigadier general Ambrose Mutinhiri, whom Mugabe seems to have thrown his full weight behind.

Since his fall from power, Mugabe has stayed at his Harare mansion with his wife Grace. His ousting was the culmination of a power struggle between Mnangagwa and Grace, who was being groomed by her husband as his potential successor.

Mugabe was granted immunity from prosecution and assured that his safety will be protected in his home country under a deal that led to his resignation.

He quit as Parliament began a process to impeach him, triggering wild celebrations on the streets.

Zimbabwe was once one of Africa’s most promising economies but suffered decades of decline as Mugabe pursued policies that included the violent seizure of white-owned commercial farms and money-printing that led to hyperinflation.

Mnangagwa has said Zimbabwe still wants to end discrimination between black and white farmers but will seek new ways to compensate those who have lost their properties. Former colonial ruler Britain said last month that Harare should press on with transparent and fair land reform.

Mugabe told South African television his departure was a “disgrace”. Since leaving office he has largely stayed out of the public eye

“It was truly a military takeover, there was no movement visible unless that movement was checked and allowed by the army,’ said Mugabe.

On events leading to his ouster, he said the army made sure the other organs of the State were neutralised completely.

“They neutralised the Central Intelligence Organisation, many of whose members were bashed, whose heads cracked. Some of them are missing to this day; their guns were taken away from them. The police had their armoury completely emptied. Their guns had gone, disappeared. Who had taken them? The army and there in the streets the tanks they rolled.

“What we never thought we had, some tanks. I didn’t know we had these tanks. I was told we had ancient ones, 1940 to 1980 tanks. T60 or is it T63 something. There, they were rolling; armoured cars running. And people were not allowed to move from one place to the other unless they got the permission of the army.

“Searches were taking place, left, right and centre; persons being arrested. It was truly a military takeover. There was no movement possible unless that movement was checked and allowed by the army; that’s what it was. I don’t know what you would want to call it but our people had not experienced such an environment before. We had prided ourselves on being very democratic everyday,” he said.

He also spoke about his workers persecution, saying they were being called one by one to be asked “very silly questions”.

He also revealed how former politburo members Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere and Patrick Zhuwao escaped from the jaws of the military.

“Yes, once upon a time we assisted them to get to safety. Guns, volleys of bullets were being fired at their houses, on their houses and a cry came, ‘please, please’ and it was my wife, mama save us, please save us. I wasn’t there, she organised some of her security, and said go. Go and save them, what happens to you, I don’t know. And she went and put together the cars and the persons that she had here. And so they were brought here to our house, ... Jonathan Moyo, Kasukuwere and their families,” he said.

“The one had about four children, wife... the other wife and three children. We kept them here and we said to them we will keep your family. We said that to the men. We said you men, have your way. Go where you can but we will keep your wives and your children here. And so they left and we don’t know how and we don’t know where they went.  We don’t know where they went. And we kept their families here till the situation was slightly better, then they asked to get back to their homes.

Mugabe was forced to quit when the military stepped in and Zanu PF lawmakers launched impeachment proceedings against their once beloved leader.

Mugabe was instrumental in founding the Republic of Zimbabwe — but became known for his brutal policies and corrupt leadership.

His rule proved to be one of the most controversial of any world leader in the 20th or 21st century.

At 94 years of age when he was eventually replaced by a military coup he was by far the world’s oldest active national leader.

He was deposed by a military uprising but refused to resign from office for several days afterwards — prompting days of protests across Zimbabwe.

Eventually, he was persuaded to resign and he was replaced in his position as president and leader of Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu PF party by Mnangagwa — known as ‘‘the crocodile’’. — With Daily Mail/Reuters/Eyewitness News

Comments (5)

Mugabe should know that war he led was because we were denied our basic rights and access to wealth and it is the same reasons why the army removed him. Illegal or not all I know is it was justified. Period

Mukariba - 17 March 2018

Mugabe.. Our country was on auto pilot whilst you looted and slept at the UN and anywhere else where you could go. Your wife removed poor settlers from Mazowe to make way for a game park.. You loved your wife far too much and the country groaned..so now..let ED have his chance. At least we know someone is in charge of affairs in zim. If you didnt know about the new tanks and the obsolete ones, what were you doing as Commander in Chief of an army which you didnt even know existed. The army never harassed people, and there was no shutdown in zim when you were placed under house arrest.. Let it go..let it go..and maybe people may find it in their hearts to forget about you..but forgive you..?I honestly dont know.

Ben Chari - 17 March 2018

Mugabe was never removed by the military;they only facilitated his removal only as catalysts;they only declared arms of gvt which had functional roles in the matter like the judiciary,the legislature &the ruling party itself free fr Mugabe's tyrant & they stood back;itz only when the responsible arms of gvt & organs of zanu pf party would freely express themselves for first time over Mugabe's long stay that they began the process of removing him using legal instruments-the party legally recalled him fr his position as party leader & directed him to quit state presidency as per provisions of party constitution;the legislature had also began the legal impeachment process when he opted for free resignation under section 96 of the zim constitution as Ngwena said in his press statement-SO WHAT?

addmore gudo - 17 March 2018

We all have knowledge that Mugabe of late had begun to have illicit intentions of smuggling his wife into state presidency-the only reason that justified the army intervention on behalf of the people.He had threatened all his party structures thru out the country with dismissal,if ever attempted to oppose his moves;n one tagged lacoste would hv bn sure to go;n affiliated public servant was also equally threatened with dismissal-this was all in his sinister moves to clear his wife's path to the presidency.He had succeeded to suppress all dissent in the party & gvt-which was freely vindicated when the army intervened& freed both the party & gvt to democratically operate,hence they all began to clearly show their real will.The army only freed the citizenry & their gvt fr the tyrant of one man.Let it be very clear-there was no n bad factionalism in zanu pf even then;people shld b allowed to take what side they want-the lacoste,& the g40 divisions were health for a democratic party;let them side with whoever they want at congresses;every post shld b free for contest including the presidency of the party.The only wrong thing was Mugabe's tyrant which they called one centre of power

addmore gudo - 17 March 2018

The military never took power but only freed the state& its people fr a kind of a security threat which falls within their mandate, if n kind of abnormalities happens within the state system of governance;in a state of emergency are allowed to temporarily take power & return it to civilian rule in normal times;bec of the emergency of Mugabe's abnormal indulgence in ways he was running the state then,they had constitutional mandate to intervene on behalf of the people;taking full cognizance of the above background;the judiciary also called it legal action & therefore ED'S gvt was legally mandated despite Mugabe's claims who resigned on his own terms fearing legal impeachment processes against him. Plz note that even after the military intervention,the party & gvt who legally removed Mugabe could even opt to walk back the military process if they wanted to support him but they chose otherwise

addmore gudo - 17 March 2018

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