HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) --
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe turns 93 Tuesday and has
declared that he is ready to soldier on as head of state and government.
Mugabe, who is Africa’s third longest serving after Jose Eduardo dos Santos of
Angola and Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, is the only head
of government Zimbabweans have ever known since the country attained
independence from Britain in 1980.
In an interview with state television to be aired this week, Mugabe said he
would only step down if the call came from his party, but that would not be any
time soon because the party wanted him to stand as its candidate in the 2018
elections when his current tenure ends.
"They want me to stand for elections everywhere in the party," Mugabe said,
adding that in any case party members did not consider anyone good enough to
replace him at the moment.
His sentiments echoed those of his wife Grace who said on Friday that even if
Mugabe was to contest the election as a corpse, the people would still vote for
Mugabe introduced universal education and a robust social program which saw
previously marginalized communities benefiting while international aid
organizations poured in millions in support of the fledgling government.
However, relations with Western powers started getting frosty over perceived
mis-governance issues and alleged violation of human rights in the 1990s and
eventually broke down in 2000 when the government expropriated land from white
commercial farmers and re-allocated it to formerly landless blacks.
This led to serious economic decline with Mugabe attributing most of the
failures to economic sanctions imposed on him by the European Union, the United
States and their Western allies since the early 2000s over the land issue.
The government also blames persistent droughts for the decline.
The World Bank said the country’s economy grew by 0.4 percent in 2016 weighed
down by a drought and low commodity prices, the lowest growth since the country
adopted a multi-currency regime in 2009.
The country recorded a trade deficit of 2.3 billion U.S. dollars in 2016
because of low activity in the manufacturing sector, while Foreign Direct
Investment was curtailed by the government’s hazy indigenization policy which
Zimbabwe has also been hit by cash shortages since 2014, with the U.S. dollar
- the major currency in the multi-currency basket adopted in 2009 - becoming
As a result, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has introduced bond notes at par
with the U.S. dollar to plug the deficit, but while many people have grudgingly
accepted them, prices of some commodities continue to rise as the black market
operators come into play.
Civil servants have endured the effects of a harsh economy with payments of
their salaries being done late.
In the meantime, Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party has remained divided along
factional lines over the years.
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is the perceived leader of one going by the
name Lacoste, while Mugabe’s wife is fighting in her own corner with mainly
younger leaders calling themselves Generation 40.
Both factions will converge in southern Zimbabwe on Saturday to celebrate
Mugabe’s birthday at a lavish party organized by the party’s youth league.
Former Vice President Joice Mujuru was expelled from the party following the
party’s congress in 2014 for allegedly harboring ambitions to topple Mugabe and
has since formed her own political outfit.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe marks 93rd birthday with
HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) --
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Saturday marked his 93rd
birthday with a lavish party organized by the youth wing in his Zanu-PF party in
Matopos, Matabeleland South.
The veteran, who is the world’s oldest leader, turned 93 on February 21 and
every year youths in his party organize a massive birthday celebration in his
honor under the banner of the 21st February Movement.
Thousands of Zanu-PF supporters attended the ceremony, held just outside the
country’s second largest city of Bulawayo.
In his wide-ranging speech, the president thanked God for the long life,
saying 93 years was a "long, long journey filled with both joy and sorrow."
Left with one sibling, the president said there were times when he felt
lonely after having lost many of his siblings, but reckoned that perhaps he
could have been given a long running mandate by God.
"When I look back, I say, aah, Oh Lord, why have these (siblings) been taken
before me and why have I remained so long alone and alive?" the president said.
Turning to politics, the president spoke on divisions in his party over
succession and reiterated that people should not canvass for positions but
should let the people choose them.
"The party is based on a party constitution and the party constitution
provides how people get elected from one position to another.
"So why want to try to circumvent the constitution?" the president said.
His party has in recent years been rocked by intense infighting by factions
vying to succeed him, one reportedly led by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa
and another by a younger generation of leaders going by the name G40.
Both factions deny the accusations.
Mugabe warned the "ambitious" leaders that they would never succeed in
He recently said he was not ready to step down and would not groom a
successor as that was the responsibility of the people.
Zanu-PF has endorsed him as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2018
elections when he will be 94.
He said even as some people within his party continue to call for his
resignation, he would only step down when his party says so.
The veteran president said he would also not impose a party leader, as that
would be in violation of the party constitution.
"I don’t want to choose a leader for the party. I only choose my two vice
presidents (Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko) and the issue about my successor
that is a constitutional issue, an issue of the party congress," he said.
He told party members to wait for the 2019 Zanu-PF elective congress to deal
with the succession issue, and indicated that his successor must be a person of
impeccable credentials and a principled leader who would not reverse some of the
gains of the country’s liberation struggle including the land reform program.
His wife Grace Mugabe also addressed the gathering and said her husband’s
93rd birthday was a milestone achievement.
She hailed Mugabe as a loving husband, exemplary father, statesman and iconic
and great leader of Africa.
"He is everything virtuous to the downtrodden of this world," the First Lady
Earlier, Mugabe let 93 balloons into the air to mark the start of the
celebrations at Matopos.
Zimbabwe president to officiate at road
HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) --
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is expected to officiate at the
groundbreaking ceremony of the rehabilitation of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu
highway in early March.
The ceremony will trigger commencement of works on the highway by Austrian
firm Geiger International in partnership with Chinese contractor China Harbour
Engineering Company (CHEC), Transport Minister Jorum Gumbo said Monday.
He told a parliamentary committee that at least 40 percent of the value of
the project will be sub-contracted to local Zimbabwean companies.
"We asked the financier to allow 40 percent involvement in the project by our
local people and they are going to advertise on what they want the locals to
contribute," the minister said.
He said some engineers from Geiger International were already in the country
preparing to start the work.
An independent engineer in conjunction with government engineers will
supervise the project to meet required standards, he said.
Last November, Geiger International signed an Engineering, Procurement and
Construction contract with Zimbabwe to pave for the rehabilitation and
dualization of the 900-km highway.
The highway will be rehabilitated in segments with Geiger International set
to construct the Beitbridge-Harare segment at a cost of 984 million U.S. dollars
under a 25-year build operate and transfer model while the Harare-Chirundu
segment of the highway will be constructed by CHEC under a loan financing model.
The Beitbridge-Harare road would be constructed over a period of three years.
The Zimbabwe government has since approved the EPC contract for CHEC and a
delegation from the Chinese firm is now expected in the country to sign the
The loan agreement for the Harare-Chirundu highway is expected to be
concluded by mid 2017, according to minister Gumbo.
The scope of the work include full dualization of the road, including the
widening and rehabilitation of the existing road and construction of 37 new two
lane bridges and 8 tollgates.
The Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu highway is Zimbabwe’s busiest road and the
gateway to neighboring countries including South Africa, Zambia, Malawi and the
Democratic Republic of Congo.
The narrow highway has since outlived its lifespan and is in urgent need of
rehabilitation as it is now littered with potholes.
Mugabe warns party
against canvassing for Zimbabwe positions
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