President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe at a press conference on July 30, 2013. The national elections were scheduled for the next day., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
I’m a law-abiding citizen, says President
July 31, 2013 Opinion & Analysis
President Mugabe addressing the press conference at State House yesterday:
I want to begin Cde Minister (Emmerson Mnangagwa) and Cde Secretary (George Charamba); I want to begin by welcoming everybody to State House and to this Press conference. As you can see it’s about sunset now and as the sun is setting so is our campaign which was quite a vigorous campaign, also coming to an end.
Tomorrow is another exercise but which is the final part of what was quite a rigorous, vigorous and energy sapping campaign by all of us in the country.
The various parties, various members of the parties and especially the leaders and leading groups of those parties. On behalf of my own party, I would want to take this opportunity to thank all members, leading members of my party for the very important and very energy sapping exercise that they undertook in organising our campaign.
I believe we ran a successful campaign. I believe the campaign also showed us that the people still support the principles of Zanu-PF and believe in Zanu-PF. I want, therefore, as I thank them, to wish all those who are candidates on our behalf that are standing on our behalf every success.
But I would also want to thank other parties big and small, the MDCs and their leaders for what was a joint exercise, a joint appeal to our nation for peace, for a fair and violence free campaign.
There might have been a few incidents here and there but those of you who were with us from the beginning of the campaign to this day, you will have noticed, that our meetings, the interactions, were very peaceful indeed and we owe this to the decision we undertook, all of us to emphasise the need for a peaceful process.
All of us, the principals; the three principals. It’s not just the President alone it’s the President, Prime Minister (Morgan) Tsvangirai, Deputy Prime Minister (Arthur) Mutambara and even the Cabinet.
So we go out and tell the people that this is a national election, a national election which is really an opportunity for our people to go out and cast their vote for the party of their own liking.
And I am glad this has paid dividends and we do hope that we remain this way even after the elections.
There have been a few hitches here and there. Of course, we had to attack each other politically, which is what we are supposed to do in an election campaign.
I got my fair share of criticism and I also dealt back right, left and uppercuts and all that kind of thing.
That is a game and we do hope that it has been a model for future campaigns. At the end of it all, in a selfish way, because I am Zanu-PF and a leader of Zanu-PF and hope that the people will vote for Zanu-PF and see once again Zanu-PF as the government of our country.
And so I would want to once again thank our people for a peaceful campaign. I say there have been a few hitches here and there but one of the hitches was the delay in the delivering of voter registers and we got them late. I suppose this had to do with the printing and whatever other hitches those who handled the printing exercise and the distribution of it had to overcome.
That has been overcome now so I am told. And all stations and all those who should have the registers now have them. And we do hope that as the voting starts tomorrow, these registers would be at all stations and will enable the process to start, and start being regulated, and regulated in the normal way.
I am not campaigning here but greeting you and giving you an opportunity to ask questions and of course, I expect to ask you also in return my own questions. So over to you!
Question (German Press Agency): Your time in office has been very lengthy. There has been concern that Zanu-PF has become conflated during your stay in power how do you respond to this criticism?
President: We are the people’s party and you must remember that there is no other party that has conducted the revolution to redeem the country from the colonial grip. Which was running closer to, to nearly a century, a century is 100 consecutive years from 1890 to 1980. Our people were then under colonial rule and that was quite a period of oppression.
And it took a party like Zanu-PF now combined. Earlier on, we were Zanu, Zapu and previously as we started we were ANC (1957) then the National Democratic Party (1960-61) thereafter that Zapu alone and the split came.
Zanu, Zapu but the same objectives!
Redeeming the party, fighting for our self-determination. And it’s a people’s party and so it’s not like any other parties. We have parties that have been hatched in Britain. We were not that and those who criticise us are not members of the party naturally or outsiders like those in Europe and America who don’t know much about us except that we are subjects of their oppression.
Question (BBC news): If you lose, are you prepared to hand over power to the victor and stand down?
President: That’s a normal thing if you go into a process and join a competition. Well, there are only two outcomes. Win or lose, you can’t be both. You either win or lose. If you lose, then you must surrender to those who have won. If you win then those who have lost must also surrender to you, this is it. We will do so, yeah, comply with the rules.
Question (ITv): You have been a ferocious critic of British governments. What is your approach and attitude towards this British government, of David Cameron?
President: I have said very, very little about David Cameron. I say quite a lot about British imperialism and colonialism.
I worked with Margaret Thatcher very, very, shall I say, sincerely on my part and she too was sincere. Conservative party mind she was, we got our independence when she was Prime Minister, but we went along very well.
I visited, I invited her, and she invited me to Britain that was the relationship. Then came of course (John) Major. Conservative too, still we worked very smoothly we hosted the Commonwealth here in 1991 November thereabout and we worked very well with Major. But then came the defeat of the Conservative party by Labour.
We had worked very well with Labour. They had invited us as a liberation movement to their conferences. I attended as an observer obviously but hadn’t been invited by the Labour party still struggling to get into government.
Then when the man called Mr (Tony) Blair took over, the trouble started. He seemed to come from some wilderness or some street of London. He seemed not to know what had transpired. He wanted to reverse the land reform programme which we had agreed with the previous British government at Lancaster.
We had spent close to three months — October to December just before Christmas 1979 when the talks ended. The main issue was not just freedom and independence, it was freedom and independence plus the return of our land. But there was Blair saying no to our land. Well, we said, if you are no longer able to pay the compensation you are supposed to pay us, we said well, keep your money but Zimbabwe and its land belongs to us.
We will keep our land. That was the cause of the problem. That was the quarrel. It was this one man whom we quarrelled with. But who was he after all? Look at him as he followed (George) Bush to go and attack an innocent man Saddam Hussein, accusing him of having weapons of mass destruction which he didn’t have.
They swore he had them knowing full well he didn’t have them, telling lies to the rest of the world, the United Nations and going there even without the go-ahead of the UN. ‘With or without the UN I will go’, said Bush and ‘so will I’, said Blair. So the two went and attacked dishonestly this innocent man.
Killed him in the process! Yes they pretended he was tried thereafter they declared he didn’t have those weapons of mass destruction having told that gigantic lie. The same with us, there is no rule of law in Zimbabwe, there is no democracy, there is violation of human rights, which was a lie.
We had differed with them on this issue of the land, which I have made reference to and of course, he wanted us to be punished for defying him. And we pursed acquisition of the land from the white farmers here and giving it to our own people. Yes! That is that!
Yes, we are not there to make enemies, we are there to make friends and if the British people are open to friendship, we actually like them. We have not said anything against Her Majesty the Queen. She came here when we had our Commonwealth conference and had an occasion to reminisce about the last time she visited in 1947 when she was still a young woman.
I was also invited to London and was taken to the palace there by Her Majesty. We have great respect for the Queen and we have great respect for Prince Charles and the other princes and so on.
There it is! Yes! Sure! We would have that friendly disposition, that readiness to work together, with those who imposed sanctions on us yesterday. Provided they remove the sanctions, of course, so we are not a hostile people, never.
Question: Prime Minister (Morgan Tsvangirai) accuses you of being a puppet of the military, what is your response?
President: I thought I accused him of being a puppet of Europe and the whites. So he has dealt me one good one in return. So it’s all over now, we can shake hands. We have worked together, this was the expected.
Did you think he was not going to box me?
And did you think I was going to open myself to being boxed without dealing with it in return what I learned over all these years? Eighty-nine years of boxing the British and imperialism gave me quite some experience.
Question: Allegations of intimidation in the rural areas, intimidation of voters by the chiefs?
President: Do you mean that the chiefs are there to intimidate their own people? How can the chiefs ever leave their thrones to intimidate the very citizens they rely upon for the respect they get?
They are there you know, to serve the people and to ensure that there is order.
Have you got any example of any real specific example? Where it has it happened? You know the rural areas also have lions and elephants. You might have mistaken them for chiefs.
Question (BBC): Your political rivals are alleging that the voters’ roll was delivered only yesterday. That it was deliberate. They are also saying that your party Zanu-PF has been working to manipulate the voters’ roll. In light of that, could this be your last term in office should you win?
President: On the first part, no, sir! I only got my copy of the voters’ roll yesterday and that could never happen. We don’t do things like that. We are not going to the elections for the first time. We had elections before, democratic elections. The West might not have accepted them as democratic but our people know that we have done no cheating.
Never ever! And we are also Christian. As to whether this is my last election, why do you want to know my secrets? Tell me?
Question: Some people are saying you are aged 89 and may not be in a position to come back.
President: I will have gone, is it? So you think. According to Europe and perhaps America I died, I don’t know how many times I died. They never talked of my resurrection. I was dying and dying even though dead I was dying again and again but never would they say I have resurrected. I am not dead yet.
Question: How do you see the relationship with South Africa?
President: If there is criticism of one person, a woman who was given to opening her mouth in an irregular manner, just that one person, does that become a criticism against South Africa? Does it become a criticism against Zuma? I am glad that was corrected and I am glad that she now has learnt to zip her mouth.
Question: What do you say to those who may choose to resort to violence after the elections?
President: Well, we will say the law is there to take care of them and it will take care of them. Those who break the law naturally land themselves to being arrested. We will not accept that. Why would one resort to violence if they do not accept the results of the elections and allege that some irregularities have happened? Why not appeal to the courts?
Question: Will you reappoint the same ministers you had in the inclusive Government?
President: Well, I will look at those who will have won on the Zanu-PF side that is. We had an inclusive Government but we have had even before an inclusive one that had a number of cabinet ministers.
Well, if they are appointable, yes. Well, sure, why not if they have had good record? Why should they not be appointed? They can be appointed; they are amenable to being appointed. That is not going to say I am going to appoint them per se.
Question (New York Times): Can you continue governing with the MDC?
President: Could MDC continue governing along with Zanu-PF? That is what you want to say isn’t it? Well that circumstance is not envisaged this time. I don’t think we will have the same result. I think we will have an outright victory. If it’s not outright, we will discuss, we don’t tell. We cannot foretell what we shall do before we know the actual fact.
Well, let the facts be delivered to us by the voters tomorrow and we will know which way to go. It all depends with what we get from the voters-what the voters want you to do.
Question: If you are victorious in this election what are the main policies we can expect in your administration?
President: We have enunciated the most important. You call them reforms, we call them developmental plans. We have said, as our theme indicated that our indigenisation programme will continue.
Indigenisation policy and empowerment programme will be the guiding principles as we embark on the various sectoral development programmes.
We will obviously want to ensure that the sectors that we had not addressed as completely as the way we have done in the land area, the land sector, that is the agriculture side which we were dealing with.
We will look at the mining sector. The manufacturing sector at the moment, we have problems of the manufacturing sector, which because of sanctions and the economic crisis that had visited us, nearly collapsed that sector. We will look at the main players in that sector and see what we can do.
If we can re-invest, get the companies to be back on their feet. We will do so and this certainly is an area which requires urgent attention. And we will give it that urgent attention but we also have, of course, our financial sector — the banks and so on. Those need to be invigorated. We need to ensure that they are made liquid.
At the moment, they suffer from liquidity and so their own capacity to lend money inhibits borrowing.
And it’s important because our investment will depend on investors wanting to borrow money from them. If the financial institutions cannot lend then, you cannot invest. If you cannot invest then you cannot get greater productivity happening in the sectors, then your development is not going to have an upward trend.
You can have that downward look all the time. It’s all sectors but in each sector we will have to look at points that need greater emphasis. We are more worried at the moment by the collapse of the manufacturing sector. The mining sector, there has been quite some vigorous activity there.
The discovery of diamonds, the discovery of platinum but we need money. These are much more competent.
Our gold mining too has suffered. We used to produce close to 30 tonnes of gold a year.
We had come down to five (tonnes) but we are now up to 13 tonnes, which is not good for Zimbabwe which has depended on gold and tobacco as the mainstay of the country’s economy. We will have to look at our currency also.
We are using the American dollar at the moment and we will see how we can introduce our own Zimbabwean currency in the process. And we will take time to adjust before we can introduce the modifications.
Question (Xinhua): Do you think your chances are better than 2008 or 1980?
President: As far good as the chances we had in 1980? As we began, the enthusiasm of the people and just the crowds that we got, just marvelous and it’s come back to reality. People have realised that they had lost their direction and they are back to the revolutionary direction we gave them.
Question: What about the meeting with (Olusegun) Obasanjo and his impression about the election climate?
President: I have met him and we have worked together in the past. In the Commonwealth and in the AU and he was not a stranger to this country and I am not a stranger to Nigeria and to him.
We reminisced a bit but our meeting was for about 20 minutes and he said so far so good. And he hoped the election climate he found and had reports that he got from his people, he said, he hoped that again we continue to speak the same language of calmness and the peace that obtains and prevails right up to the end.
Question: What’s your take on threats by military and police generals that they won’t accept the results for a leader who does not have liberation war credentials?
President: If one or two said so, it’s just those two. They are not the army. And they are not the authority anyway. But that was their own view and I thought it was corrected. They are law abiding people. It’s military discipline that they obey, not the discipline you and I are used to. We get up as we like and do things as we like. It’s left, right, about turn, left march.
Question: Allegations are that you have power to manipulate the electoral process in favour of Zanu-PF?
President: I don’t have the power. Are you giving me the power now? If you give me the power I will say no I don’t need it. I have the law in my country. It is the law that manipulates us all. I don’t control the electoral process. I comply with and obey the electoral law.
And I move in accordance with the demands of the electoral process-that is moving in accordance with the law as set. That is the electoral law. I am very obedient. I am a lawyer myself. I am also a person who believes in order. I have been brought up obeying father and mother, obeying systems, obeying customs, obeying elders and that’s it.
We obeyed when it was said our election in 2008, presidential election was tarnished by violence. That was the view given to us by others but we didn’t think that they were so tarnished as really to be completely ignored or set aside.
In comparison with elections elsewhere in Africa and other developing countries, we are much ahead.
But we said that was the view and it was a view exerted on many of us by mainly the West and Europe which wanted naturally to see regime change.
We accepted when Africa said we should re-do the elections. That was obedience, to the views of others and compliance with the thinking of others, with the majority thinking.
That we should re-do our elections and we agreed to re-do them. We together sat here to establish an inclusive Government. We agreed to work together and we were working together right to the end and we were not law breakers.
Question: How do you intend to spend your time afterwards if elections go the other way?
President: You are asking a man who is 89 years old about how to spend his time. How did I ever spend all these years? I will spend my time the same way I spent those years.
You look at Zimbabwe and you think there is nothing to do? I am an educationist, I am an economist. I can’t do that? I am a politician. I am also now a good story teller, you know. I can spend my time telling stories or writing them.
Question (ZBC Radio Services): The EU say they are credible observers and that if they are not invited then the elections will not be credible.
President: Their creed is not our creed. What they believe in is not always what we believe in. Their judgement of us is always the judgement of a superior who wants to impose authority. That’s what we fought for and we are a revolutionary country. A revolutionary people and we have our own decision.
We are masters of our own destiny and we don’t listen to Europe and say what Europe says is what we do. Quite contrary, because we know from experience that what they say is always what we would never say nor want to hear.
We say keep your own views to yourselves. If you don’t like our elections or the results of our elections, well, it’s up to you. We will go ahead. Sanctions or no sanctions, but don’t interfere in our own country. If they want to be friendly, we are open. We have never ever said they are enemies. It is they who have made us enemies and not the opposite.”
Question: Seated next you is Minister (Emmerson) Mnangagwa in the absence of your deputy. And he is seen by others as someone who is vying to take over from you. Are you in a way endorsing him for the Presidency?
President: Your mind has run wild. You want me to tell you why he happens to be here?
He had come to deliver a paper to me on something else. And we were discussing and he asked why all these people were here and I said I was going to have a press conference.
And he asked if he could stay and I said yes. He is not even invited. He has invited himself and I said you are welcome. In Africa we don’t chase people.
At wedding and gatherings, you don’t have to call people. Everyone who wants to attend a wedding comes, they get their feel, food and so on.
He happened to have seen you gathered here and he wondered how you, even strangers much more of strangers to me than him could be here.
Was it for his ministry of defence? You can say perhaps that he feared that you people gathered here were out to commit some mischief and he wanted to be present to defend me. So you can see he sat here and very mute and listened to you and perhaps enjoying your questions.
Question: What positives would you take from the current inclusive government?
President: We have discussed the issue of working together and that’s very important. We were able to work together and for a start we feared each other and we feared, even Tsvangirai would not drink a cup of tea and I said I would not put any poison.
I said you watch if I drink from this pot you also drink from it, so that if there is poison, it would kill me first. Later on he got adjusted, we have never been close to each other and now he could ask for tea and so forth. Even now as we went into this boxing match. Although we boxed each other it was a friendly boxing and not as hostile as before.
We also emerged with this need for us to appeal for peace but we said if we are to appeal to observe peace, we must demonstrate it ourselves. In Cabinet, we had become very friendly, there was a very friendly interaction, you could not say this was Zanu-PF, MDC-M, MDC-T or MDC-N. That was the greatest achievement, that virtue of being able to work with your opponents. We hope we can continue like that.
Obviously we managed in pursuing our task of ensuring that the development of our country does not get to the stage of collapsing. We managed to prop it in spite of the sanctions and although we accused the MDC of having appealed for sanctions but there we were, together fighting sanctions and that get-together was very important.
President’s Closing Remarks
We hope that all these faces will not just report this event of the elections as you have seen it objectively.
You know the damning reports of a Zimbabwe that is disturbed with violence, where there is dictatorship and negative reporting. Completely subjective and not objective but that could be avoided. We do know of course that your own masters, and some people on top of you who require that even when you have seen the truth and you would want to tell the truth they will say oh, no, don’t say this but say that.
That happens when you are not the master and someone is your master. I do not know whether some of you here are masters of yourselves or you are going to report to your own masters and these masters are going to accept what you are going to report.
Damn these masters who impose on you, who see their own views and don’t want you to express yourselves in an objective way.
Damn their policies of being in the negative, where you would want to be objective and positive.
I would say, damn your own views if they are your views. Can’t you have positive views? When a thing is wrong, if it is wrong tell it, say it.
Don’t be blunt about it, say it is wrong. If Mugabe is a thief or robber, say so.
But if Mugabe is right and Blair is wrong please say so.