President Robert Mugabe says he will remain in power despite growing calls for him to leave office for allegedly failing to run Zimbabwe.
The president made these remarks at a meeting convened on Wednesday by war veterans and the ruling party following a bold move by some former freedom fighters to dump him ahead of the 2018 presidential election.
Addressing some former freedom fighters belonging to a faction of the Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans Association led by Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister, Mandi Chimene, Mr. Mugabe said he would not leave office charging that he was created to be president.
President Mugabe said he would continue to occupy the country’s top post for as long as he was still alive and Zimbabweans still wanted him to lead.
The veteran leader accused Britain, France and the United States of working with some war veterans and opposition forces through their embassies in Harare to effect what he described as illegal regime change. Some veterans of Zimbabwe’s liberation war aligned to Chris Mutsvangwa, who was recently expelled from Zanu PF, last week called for Mr. Mugabe to leave office saying he was too old to campaign for in the 2018 and elections.
Those war veterans also accused Mr. Mugabe of failing to run the country’s affairs. The president dismissed these allegations.
However, representatives of some foreign embassies told Studio 7 in recent weeks that they were not involved in Zimbabwe’s political affairs adding that they were only expecting the Harare government to uphold the rule of law and protect citizens’ rights.
Meanwhile, factionalism in the ruling party took another turn today when Chimene openly castigated Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa for allegedly keeping quiet when allegations of him plotting to remove President Mugabe from power were being levelled against him by some in the ruling party.
The vice president, who attended the meeting, did not say a single word although Chimene challenged him to take on Mr. Mugabe at a special congress if he was power-hungry. Mnangagwa reportedly leads a Zanu PF faction that is angling to take over from President Mugabe once he leaves office while First Lady Grace Mugabe is allegedly leading another faction calling itself Generation 40 or G40.
But Mr. Mugabe encouraged Mnangagwa not to remain silent on allegations levelled against him.
Zanu PF supporters at the party's headquaters, Wednesday, July 27, 2016.
Mr. Mugabe also took the opportunity to denounce Pastor Evan Mawarire of the #thisflag movement warning the church not to interfere with the country’s political matters.
The president also warned those protesting against his government that they would rot in jail if they dared to go into the streets to express their frustrations. This comes at a time when MDC-T youths announced on Monday that they would be embarking on sustained nationwide protests in August until President Mugabe leaves office.
There was some drama before the president took to the podium when singer and Zanu PF activist Energy Mutodi was chased away from the meeting by some Zanu PF youths, who also manhandled some journalists from the independent media, in the full view of the Zanu PF leadership.