MDC-T leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday said President Robert Mugabe’s “arrogance” and refusal to leave power was a result of his marriage to a much younger wife, who dictated the pace, forcing him to soldier on despite his advanced age.
MOSES MATENGA/JOHN NYASHANU
Mugabe wedded his former secretary Grace, 40 years his junior, in 1996 at a lavish ceremony at his Zvimba village.
Addressing party supporters in Chikomba yesterday, Tsvangirai also said Mugabe confided in him that he was reluctant to leave power for fear of plunging his Zanu PF party into chaos.
“Sadc told him to come up with a new constitution to build the economy and health, and that if these issues are addressed, we go for elections — but he is arrogant and you never know whether it is inborn or old age,” Tsvangirai said.
“I asked him why he was not retiring yet he was falling asleep as he talks? He (Mugabe) said he wanted to rest, but the problem was if he left, Zanu PF would be doomed and dead. The problem is that if you take a young wife she will be insisting and pushing you and you cannot resist that. That is the problem, but the important thing is that this time let us give him a pension.”
While Tsvangirai spoke about the President’s marriage, First Lady Grace told thousands of Zanu PF supporters at a rally in Norton that Mugabe had directed Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo to order all local authorities to scrap utility bills debts accrued by residents since 2009.
Grace has emerged as one of Mugabe’s main campaigners for next week’s polls.
“(Mugabe) told Chombo to cancel all these debts after realising the extent to which people were suffering. We are using a currency that is not ours and is hard to come by, so this was the best solution considering our collective plight,” Grace said.
Mugabe also told the party supporters that Zanu PF members of his Cabinet were involved in “adulterous affairs” hence they should not chastise the Premier over his marital affairs. After losing his wife Susan in a road accident in 2009, Tsvangirai reportedly dated several women before settling for Elizabeth Macheka last year.
“Small houses, small houses (mistresses) — they have become a real menace. Even in Cabinet, I do have adulterous members and I then say to them if you are indulging in such activities, why mock Tsvangirai?” he told thousands of Zanu PF supporters.
Meanwhile, Tsvangirai claimed Mugabe has rigged elections since 2002, vowing at next week’s election the people should defend their vote.
“We are facing an election and there are things that we want. We can put (Chikomba MDC-T parliamentary candidate) Piniel Denga to Parliament and vote for MDC-T councillors, but the important thing is if Mugabe is still there we would have done nothing. In 2002, Mugabe rigged the elections, in 2008 he rigged and this time we are saying enough is enough and this time we will defend our vote,” Tsvangirai said.
On graft, Tsvangirai said Mugabe had defended corrupt ministers since 1980.
“I asked Emmerson Mnangagwa, my nephew, that in 33 years as minister, what did he achieve? In the MDC-T government, we will fire corrupt ministers and we will redeploy. We have no fear to fire people. Corruption is just too much, even if you want a birth certificate, identity card or even a driver’s licence – it is even worse at roadblocks,” the MDC-T leader said.
Tsvangirai said people in rural areas were still afraid of Zanu PF terror, but urged them to be strong and vote Zanu PF out on July 31, equating the election to a life-and-death affair.
Mugabe, desperate to win every vote in Wednesday’s election, also appealed to gold panners to vote for him, saying his government would support their activities.
“We want them to pan and sell their minerals to Fidelity Printers and not sell clandestinely to unscrupulous buyers from outside the country. We want them organised and they will be supported by government,” he said.
As the gathering dispersed, students at St Eric’s High School in Norton, who were made to lose their day’s learning as a result of the rally, endured yet more “punishment” as they were ordered to remain behind to take furniture back into the classrooms.