Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe refused to step down and instead called for immediate reforms in the country on Sunday night while addressing the nation in a much anticipated live television broadcast, despite earlier reports that he would resign.
In his speech which lasted about 20 minutes, Mugabe noted that “we cannot be guided by bitterness” and then concluded saying “I thank you and good night”.
This was the second time Mugabe was making a public appearance since Wednesday when the army took over the state. The 93-year-old attended a university graduation ceremony on Friday.
“We must learn to forgive and resolve contradictions real or perceived in comradely Zimbabwean spirit, I am confident that tonight our whole nation to all levels gets refocused as we out shoulder to the wheel amidst the agricultural season already upon us, let us all move forward reminding ourselves of our war time mantra,” Mugabe said in his speech.
He also thanked the army for respecting constitutionalism and his authority as President and Commander in Chief.
Mugabe addressed the nation hours after he was sacked as the leader of the Zanu-PF party. He was replaced by his previously sacked vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Read the speech from Mugabe’s full televised live address:
Fellow Zimbabweans, I address you today on the back of meeting I held today with the nation’s security command element. This meeting which was facilitated by mediating team led by Fr Fidelis Mukonori of the catholic church, followed an operation mounted by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces in the week that has gone by and which was triggered by concerns arising from their reading on the state of affairs in our country and the ruling ZANU PF party.
Whatever the pros and cons, where they went about registering those concerns, I as the president of Zimbabwe and their commander in chief do acknowledge the issues they have drawn my attention to and do believe these were raised in the spirit of honesty and out of deep patriotic concern for the stability of the nation and welfare of our people.
As I address you, I am also aware of a whole range of concerns which has come from you all as citizens of our great country…..
Today’s meeting with the command element has underscored the need for us to collectively start processes that return our nation to normalcy so all our people can go about their business unhindered in an environment of perfect peace and security assured that law and order will prevail as before and endure well into the future.
If there is any one observation we have made and drawn from the events of the past week, is the unshakable pedestal upon which rests our state of peace, law and order, amply indicating that as Zimbabweans, we are generally a peaceably disposed people and with the givenness to expressing our grievances and to resolving our differences by ourselves and with the level of dignity, discipline and restraint so rare to many other nations.
This is to be admired, indeed such traits must form the pith of our national character and personality, yes a veritable resource we summon and draw upon in times of vicissitude.
The operation I have alluded to did not amount to a threat to our well cherished constitutional order, nor was it a challenge to my authority as head of state of government, not even as commander in chief of the ZDF, the command element remained respectful with the dictates of constitutionalism. True, a few incidents may have occurred here and there but these are being corrected. I am happy that throughout the short period, the pillars of the state remained functional.
Even happier for me and arising from this meeting is a strong sense of colleaguealiaty and comradeship. Now biding the various arms of our security establishment.
This should lead to greater peace and offer an abiding sense of security in communities and in our entire nation. Among issues discussed is that relating to our economy which we all know is going through a difficult patch.
Of greater concern to our commanders are the well founded fears that the lack of unity and commonness of purpose in both party and government was translating into perceptions of inattentiveness to the economy, open public spats between high ranking officials in the party and government exacerbated by multiple conflicting messages from both the party and government made the criticism levelled against us inescapable.
Let’s stop all this, flagship projects already adopted by government stood stall. All this has to stop as we inaugurate a new work culture and pace which will show a strong sense of purpose and commitment to turning around our economy in terms of our policies.
Government remains committed to improving the social and material conditions of the people, government will soon unveil an entrepreneur skill and business development program which will empower and unleash gainful projects at our growth points and rural areas.
Fellow Zimbabweans we are a nation born out of protracted struggle for national independence. Our goals and ideals must guide our present and structure our future. The tradition of resistance is our collective legacy whose core tenets must be subscribed by all across generations and times.
Indeed, this too was a great concern for our commanders, who themselves were methods of that revolution and often at very tender ages and at great personal peril. We still have in our various communities, veterans of that founding struggle who must have found the management the prevailing management of national and party issues quite alienating, this must be corrected without delay including ensuring that these veterans continue to play central roles in the lives of our nation.
Or recognize that their participation in the war of liberation exacted life long costs which whilst hardly repayable may still be ameliorated. In respect of the party, and the party issues raised by the commanders and the general membership of ZANU PF, these too stand acknowledged, they have to be attended to with a great sense of agency. However, I am aware that as a party of liberation, ZANU PF has over the written elaborate rules and procedures that guide the operations of all its organs.
Indeed, the current criticism raised against it by the command element and some of its members, have arisen from a well founded perception that the party was stretching or even failing in its own rules and procedures.
The way forwards thus cannot be based on swapping, vying cliques that ride roughshod over party rules and procedures there must be a net return to the guiding principles of our party as enshrined in its constitution which must be applied fairly and equitably in all situations and before all members.
The era of victimization and arbitrary decisions must be put behind so as we all embrace a new ethos predicated on the supreme law of our party and nourished by an abiding sense of camaraderie.
To all this must be a general recognition that ZANU PF is a party of traditions and has been served by successive generations who are bound together by shared ideals and values which must continue to reign supreme in our nation. The issue intergeneration conflict must be resolved through a harmonized melding of old established players as they embrace and welcome new ones through a well defined sense of hierarchy and succession. Indeed, all these matters will be discussed and settled in the forthcoming congress with in the frame work of our clear road map that seeks to resolve once and for all any omission and contradictions that have affected our party negatively. The congress is due in a few weeks from now, I will preside over the processes which must not be prepossessed by any ax calculated to undermine it or compromise the outcomes in the eyes of the public.
As I conclude this address I am aware that many developments have occurred in the party or have been championed and done by individuals in the name of the party. Given the failings of the past and the anger these must have had. Such developments are understandable, but we cannot be guided by bitterness and vengefulness, they would not make us any better party members of Zimbabweans.
Our policy of reconciliation which we pronounced in 1980 and through which we reached out to those who had occupied and oppressed us for nearly a century and those we traded fire with in a bitter war surely can not be unavailable to our own both in party and nation.
We must learn to forgive and resolve contradictions real or perceived in comradely Zimbabwean spirit, I am confident that tonight our whole nation to all levels gets refocused as we out shoulder to the wheel amidst the agricultural season already upon us, let us all move forward reminding ourselves of our war time mantra.
I thank you and Good night.