Monday, July 08, 2013

(TALKZIMBABWE, NEW ERA NM) President Mugabe full Interview with New Era
This article was written by Our reporter on 28 June, at 03 : 04 AM

The following is a complete transcript of President Mugabe’s (RGM) interview on Monday by Chrispin Inambao (CI), the editor of New Era, Namibia’s leading daily newspaper. They discussed various issues affecting the southern African region, the political situation in Zimbabwe, among other issues.

CI: Good morning Your Excellency (Robert Gabriel Mugabe, RGM), I am indeed very humbled and honoured to be granted this interview that comes shortly after the Sadc extraordinary summit that took place in Mozambique. My name is Chrispin Inambao (CI) of Namibia, Zimbabwe’s ally. I will start with my first question. Your Excellency, can you give us an overview of the political situation in Zimbabwe in light of the outcome of the Sadc Extraordinary Summit?
RGM: The Sadc Extraordinary Summit discussed naturally the issue of Zimbabwe alongside the issues of Madagascar and the DRC. In regard to Zimbabwe it was, naturally, the issue of the process towards election and how prepared we were, how far we had gone. We reported that we had now concluded our Draft Constitution. We repeated that and that we had told them before and that we were now in the process of undergoing the stages that will get us to a new election. We had of course the MDCs complaining that the time limit was not enough, that the decision by our Court did not give us enough time, we did not give the people time to get registered. But that was just politicking.

We have been at it, that is preparing for this election, since 2008. First, we were to have had these elections after 18 months. The Global Political Agreement was never meant, the government of it, this inclusive Government was never meant to last more than 18 months.

But it has lasted for a whole term of five years as if it was a proper government. It was an inclusive Government put together including people who had never been voted for by the electorate. We just put this together politically. It was a political get-together in order for us to work our way towards an election which would be an election without violence because our friends said the last election was marred by violence, the presidential election. So we had now prepared for it and that is what we told them.

But the MDC was saying we needed more time, they need, Tsvangirai was saying 25, needed up to 25th of August, and the other MDC was saying two weeks, an extension of two weeks. The court had said 31st July, well I had said 31st July by way of proclamation using just the last day that was allowed us in the decision passed by the Court. The court had said we should have an election not later than July. Now, I just decided that the last day of July is not later than July.

It’s to give more time. So I made the proclamation to that effect, which meant nomination day had to be on the 28th of June. And so, people are feverishly at the moment choosing their own candidates, it’s the parties, so that they can have them nominated on the 28th which is Friday, this Friday, coming Friday.

But there have been appeals for more time now and the Court is yet to pass judgement. We don’t mind ourselves if they say no, the date 31st stands. If the Court says well, let’s give a little more time, a week or two, although people are now geared really to 31 July and that’s what we would want to have. So everyone is preparing, even those who ask for more time, they are choosing their own candidates. So I notice our directorate has now decided to, that it’s tomorrow (Tuesday) that they must choose their candidates in the provinces. So we are okay with that, the political situation is good, it’s very peaceful and we have been telling our people to have peaceful elections without violence.

But you see, when people want to choose each other at the primary, primary level, oh there is a problem . . . MDCs for the first time are doing primary elections. I warned Tsvangirai that primary elections, you will see what happens and indeed now they have since experienced this. We experienced it in the past, now because of our experience, our insistence among our people that they have to be non-violent, that is working. We are having far less arguments. There are some arguments but they are not violent ones as to who and who must stand for the primary elections. But we will come up with our nominations very soon. But the President here, myself I’m nominated already, so I don’t have to have primary elections. I will be representing my party.

CI: In your view, what is the role of the Sadc region, the AU and the international community at large on the political situation in Zimbabwe?
RGM: What is their role . . . well, we are members of these organisations and we participate in them. We look at countries politically and economically and we participate in all economic arrangements that affect us in Sadc, European Union sorry, African Union.

There I am, wanting to colonise Europe! I think we should try! We haven’t thought about it but we can, but they are very clever, they don’t want too many of our people there. One way would have been by way of immigration and voting, you see. It was beginning to affect them and now, I notice they are taking action, they no longer want too many, they are sending back some of our people. When there is a crisis in any of our countries, well we look at that crisis.

If there is a political problem, which the country itself feels it cannot resolve, we go to its assistance and this is why we, our country was being discussed and we were getting the assistance of a facilitator.

We have done so in Lesotho, we did so, even in terms of more serious situations of conflict in Mozambique and in the DRC we had to send troops, the three of us — Namibia, Angola, Zimbabwe — to try and defend the legitimate government of Congo. I notice they continue to have problems in the eastern part and we are again as Sadc aware of that and we have agreed to send help to them by way of troops. So that’s what Sadc and even the African Union can do. We want to see much more of economic co-operation really than arrangements to correct political situations that go astray.

CI: And then talking about economic co-operation, Your Excellency, are you happy with the current relations between Namibia and your country?
RGM: Yes, we have been co-operating, technically, by way of training programmes, assisting each other as much as possible because Namibia was still new and it required to build that base of managers and well-trained people. So that was the emphasis but we would want to see the emphasis now on economic co-operation. Economic co-operation, we are yet to establish our own harbour, I think we are behind with our payments there. The dry port, and we will be using Namibia quite a lot, because we want to use that port because Namibia is a very firm friend, very close and very firm and solid, un-afraid, courageous. What we find in other ports is that if the West says we have imposed sanctions — no arms to Zimbabwe . . . they are afraid to receive arms.

We must equip our army, you can’t have an army without even rifles. And so every country does that, so China was going to send us these arms, now they were afraid to receive them.

CI: Your Excellency, what are the legal and constitutional implications of the Sadc Extraordinary resolution requesting your Government to approach the Constitutional Court for an extension of the election date and what is your view on the Sadc Resolution?
RGM: Yes, we approached the Constitutional Court for it to make a decision at the request of those who wanted an extension. But we didn’t want an extension as Zanu-PF, no, and so our Minister of Justice just facilitated the others if they want to make their request — appeals to the Court — to do so. And I take it they have been given time to do so. I’m not sure about the present stage of events. It was filed today and hearing will be on Wednesday. So there has been that progress on that issue.

CI: All the three political parties in the inclusive Government have at various stages expressed their dissatisfaction with the continued existence of this coalition Government, yet your partners do no seem to want to go to the elections to enable the creation of a new Government. In your view, what could be the cause of this contradiction on the part of the MDC formations?
RGM: Well, it’s just that they are afraid of elections. Many of their members were never elected before this. They were rejected in 2008 and they are riding on this. It’s a free ride on a chariot, that national chariot that they have been enjoying. You know when you are enjoying free service, there is delivery of lovely goods as you travel on the chariot, you want to go on and on, on and on and that’s cheating the people.

You can’t cheat the people and where is your practice of democracy? And we are saying, well, you people say you believe in democracy, let’s go for elections so that you can be properly elected. No, no, no they are giving all kinds of reasons. And anyway, doomsday is coming for them on the 29th of June. How many days have we to go? It’s on Saturday (tomorrow) . . . and then the life of Parliament comes to an end and this Parliament dies, and they die politically also.

Those of them who are MPs, you see, all MPs cease to be MPs and we can’t continue without a Parliament but some of them say we go on and on. Ah! What sort of people are we to suggest that we have elections August next year, or it’s this year I suppose. Even this year, a person is completely, completely defiant of the tenet of democracy and is saying it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter. We can go on without Parliament as what?

You can’t do that, no, no. We never, never went without Parliament, every five years we had Parliament since 1980, you see and I don’t want our nation to be taught that a sitting Government can prolong the term, the life of Parliament, prolong its own life without a mandate from the people. That’s wrong, we must seek a mandate from the people. If you lose, you lose.

When you win, you win. They are afraid, they are cowards, cowards, cowards, you know . . . cowards I have never seen. There are other situations that the opposition may quarrel about.
But elections no, they accept that elections must come. But these ones of ours oh, mityutyu, mityutyu means cowards of the last, downright cowards.

CI: Your Excellency, do you think there exists a conducive environment for a free and fair election in Zimbabwe at the moment, given the calls for implementation of more reforms by your partners in Government?
RGM: Which reforms? They want us to destroy the army, for example, they don’t want the army as it is. They complain about the media and the media, you know, look at this paper it has: “Intra-party violence dogs MDC,” this is what they don’t want about The Herald. That The Herald reports this, but The Herald is reporting what is true. But they have their own papers also, which, I’ve not seen any of the copies today.

But there is always Mugabe, Mugabe, Mugabe this . . . you know they like my name. But they don’t talk well about it. As long as the paper has Mugabe the people will read it you see, whatever they say about me. So I am saying no, at least I must have some right too, they should pay me something.

Anyway, but I don’t mind their writing those things sometimes even lies, you see. Then, who really is there to say the army as it is, is not well organised. It must have another, there must be another arrangement and certain persons must go, certain commanders.

You don’t play with the army that way. Every one of the commanders from the police, air force, army, then combined forces, prison service, they all are commanders deriving from the struggle. All of them, they fought the struggle. Tsvangirai ran away from the struggle.

He actually ran away. And they are the protectors of the nation, you cannot tamper with an army, we put it together for that matter, including the Rhodesians, battalions that is Zanla and Zipra plus Rhodesians and that’s what we have now. Its an army we rely on, look at their performance in the DRC as we fought side by side with you against Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda.

And look at also the role they have played against Renamo here. And even now, as I speak, we have some of our men going, being required by the United Nations peacekeeping forces across the world, including the police force. So we pride in our army, as one of the best armies in Africa.

CI: Your Excellency, the Government of National Unity (GNU) would be dissolved after the planned harmonised elections. Your Excellency, what were some of the pros and cons of this political arrangement and in your view, was this the best of political arrangements under the circumstances that led to this arrangement?
RGM: Well, it was the best arrangement we could have made after our friends had ruled our presidential election was marred by violence. We accepted that, it was trumped up first by the West, and you know Africa took it up. But our own commission had found the election itself to have been held freely and fairly, although they said there was violence before the election. But voting was very free, so they said.

The voices were there, some voices in the AU were voices that had been actually, you know the Europeans have a lot of influence, quite a number had been influenced by the Europeans. But people said because the Europeans were against us, we having taken our land back that was the issue, and there is nothing that we can do right in view of Europe. It’s only now that they seem to be softening up because we have resisted, we have shown them, no we won’t collapse at all.

So, yah, but if our friends say, well, this is the right course for you to go, we say well there is no harm. And after all its our people, it was a good thing because some of those MDC people who could learn, have learnt something about government, how to govern.

But the issue is, now, they want to stick, they don’t want to go. It’s so sweet and we said no, it was temporary. This was a temporary thing, don’t make it permanent. Yes, it made us work together, it made us actually realise that it doesn’t pay to have violence.
We may differ, we may belong to different organisations and have different views but that should not make us fight each other. We emphasised that, we hope that has been understood but many of the leaders say, yes, they understand that and that this election should be free and fair and free of violence. We all have said that, no violence, no violence, no violence, peace, peace, peace. That’s what we want.

CI: Your Excellency, there is speculation that if you win the election, you are not going to serve your full term but intend to hand over power to a chosen successor in your party. How do you respond to this?
RGM: How do I respond to that? Well, I will retire someday but I can’t say I’m going to an election in order to retire. People will say, ah, we can’t vote for your retirement, we are voting for you to rule. That will be decided as and when the situation demands.
But you see, my brother, we had to demonstrate to the West that its not you who should instruct us to stand down, ha, regime change does not work. Who are you to want our regime to change?

So, it was mainly because of that, to demonstrate that and also to hold on, so my party could be together because sometimes when you get voices from Europe like that there are some people, in the party, who begin to worry, to shiver and so on and so forth. But we said no, we fought them yesterday you see, we can fight them again. We won’t collapse and we didn’t collapse, we will remain and remain with the leadership they don’t want. That’s it, we were defiant. It was a defiant campaign in a way. But we will settle down and naturally we should allow power to transfer. But we must be assured that when we transfer that we are well united and we have in-built strength within the party.

CI: Your Excellency, what do you make of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s move to ask the Constitutional Court to disregard the application filed by Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Hon Patrick Chinamasa seeking to extend the poll dates from July 31 to August 14?
RGM: I sympathise with his ignorance. He is an ignorant man. That’s not what a Prime Minister should do, that’s not what even the President should do. There are lawyers that can represent us if there is a point of dispute and the need to appeal on that point.
There are lawyers that can do it for us. And, for a whole Prime Minister to, we don’t even want to talk about it, its disgraceful, absolutely disgraceful.

CI: From a political view-point, why are your opponents filing so many court applications related to Constitutional Court applications filed by the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister?
RGM: Well, it’s all the issue of wanting to postpone elections. It boils down to that desire on their part. But its high time we came to the decisive moment. We can’t go on like this, you see. I’m quite sure the courts will not listen to them. The decisive moment must come and five years is enough. The nation must kick us out.

CI: Aside from the politics, Your Excellency, can you brief us on what makes you keep ticking despite your age?
RGM: Despite my age, it’s politics that keeps me ticking. It gives me life to me when I think that they are people who would want to, you see, to undermine our revolutionary gains then my whole life comes and I get something telling me no, no, no, no, no, no, no you can’t retire, we will give you more time to fight the enemy. Its just the zeal to fight but, of course, to tell the truth, it also has to do with the gift which you derive from your parents. If you have got a strong body the elements that make for long life, well and good.

So it’s the genes, I suppose. Our parents, our parents were healthy parents. Healthy parents beget healthy children, by and large and children look after themselves. There is a bit of that also on my part, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke and I have annual checks on my health and so on. So, I keep going, I know what to eat and what not to eat. Where I used to eat lots of beef, beef, beef, my late wife used to call us meaters.

You know, she was Ghanaian, she would say you Zimbabweans are meaters, you like lots of meat, for short — meat eaters — meaters. And, we said because they rely on fish, much more on fish. Namibia its beef and fish, it’s a combination. So, that’s that, but you can’t eat too much of it, there comes a time when you feel, you know, you should take less, less protein and the doctors tell you that also.

CI: Your Excellency, do you have any specific hobbies and if yes, what are these hobbies, what is your favourite soccer team and favourite soccer player and which is your favourite African soccer team? And then maybe to wind up on that, Your Excellency, hobbies aside, with your extremely busy schedule do you get ample time to spend with your family and deal with any issue that may need your personal attention?
RGM: Yes, sure, we spent quite some time with the children but not enough. They would want more time with me but they also don’t have more time because they are at school for most of the day. And just now they are scattered although one is back, she has done well. The boy is away studying, another boy is here, quite naughty, the mischievous one.

But he is also now studying seriously. We take care of them very well, the children. We want them to go to school to have some qualifications, academic, so that in life they can look after themselves. So that one, yes.

Hobbies, I used to play tennis sometime ago that used to be my hobby, but I don’t play any games anymore, I exercise everyday. But, I had no hobbies, not even tsoro dzataitamba, oh sorry, I’m talking in Shona, not even the game of draughts, yes, even the European draught, we used to play that in prison quite a lot.

I used to be very good at that. I didn’t play the more complex one, chess, oh! That one, someone tried to teach me, but I didn’t master it well. It’s a good game, a very intellectual game, a political game. You train to counter your opponents.

CI: Your Excellency, this interview will be incomplete, if I don’t bring in at least one question on the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe. What is the favourite dish among possibly many prepared specifically for you and your children by Amai Mugabe?
RGM: I don’t know whether it’s lots of dishes but she makes, she doesn’t take beef anymore. She likes fish, so we normally have fish dishes although waiters can do with beef. The kids like beef. It’s mainly fish nowadays and we don’t have fish so Namibia should be sending us lots of fish! She likes the rare one — rare fish (found) in Namibia, down there . . . oh, the Alfonsio, she likes that. But we don’t get it any more, but it’s a beautiful fish, I think it’s the most beautiful.

But otherwise its prawns, sea fish most of the time, but we eat just normal African food. Rice, yes, we try the dishes that we have tasted elsewhere, even foo foo, we do foo foo from Ghana because my late wife used to do it. So, its inherited as one of the dishes, the children like foo foo quite a lot. It’s the pounded cassava or yam.

CI: Your Excellency, I know you are a very busy person and I’m really honoured and humbled to meet such a great African statesman.
RGM: Thank you. Yes, we are really great friends with Sam (Nujoma) and President Pohamba but much more so with Sam Nujoma because he was your President during the struggle and after the struggle. The secrets, war secrets that we conceived together, I was mentioning some to Masire this time.

At one time, he wanted that weapon, final weapons they used to finish the struggle and he wanted permission to have them channelled through, to pass through Botswana and he was wondering whether Botswana could allow them. It’s the time you were quarrelling about that island . . . Kasikili, so he asked me to talk to Masire and Masire said yes, and allowed them to pass.
We used to do that with Tambo and Nyerere to get in bombs to blast the apartheid people. There was fighting in Namibia, we were fighting here.

CI: Thank you very much, Your Excellency.
RGM: Safe journey when you go back, greetings to President Pohamba, ok.

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