HARARE and Bulawayo residents yesterday reacted angrily to President Robert Mugabe’s threat to disown the two cities as punishment for dumping his Zanu PF party and overwhelmingly voting for the MDC-T in the July 31 polls.
REPORT BY MOSES MATENGA/ BLONDIE NDEBELE
In separate interviews with NewsDay in Harare and its sister publication Southern Eye in Bulawayo yesterday, the residents said the Zanu PF leader should stop being vindictive and act like a statesman by treating all citizens equally regardless of their political affiliation.
Mugabe, speaking at the burial of National Railways of Zimbabwe general manager and former liberation war fighter Retired Air Commodore Mike Karakadzai at the National Heroes’ Acre on Sunday, threatened to avenge his defeat in Bulawayo and Harare, the MDC-T’s strongholds.
The MDC-T said in a statement: “It is shameful that a man of his stature could stoop so low as to harbour petty political grudges with the people he purports to lead. Mugabe’s vindictive nature is pathetic and should not be tolerated by any sane-minded Zimbabwean.”
The Harare Residents’ Trust issued a statement, saying: “President Robert Mugabe should refrain from making statements that create disharmony among the citizens of Zimbabwe by insinuating that residents in Harare and Bulawayo should get services from the MDC-T who they overwhelmingly voted for in the July 31 poll.
“The President needs to recognise the diversity of the citizens he leads. The residents of Harare will get all services from the government of the day irrespective of whether or not they voted for that governing party in elections, declared free and peaceful by Sadc and the AU (African Union).
“President Mugabe, you also belong to Harare, and Harare residents expect you to honour the Zimbabwe Constitution, in line with your oath of office as you pledged at the National Sports Stadium before God and His people. We pray to God that President Mugabe will serve Harare residents like any other city/town in Zimbabwe. Fighting God’s people is fighting God Himself.”
Cosmas Wakatama, a Harare businessman, said: “He (Mugabe) is supposed to be President for all Zimbabweans whether Zanu PF, MDC-T or any other party. He acted like a father angered by his child and says he won’t give him or her food.”
Another resident, Felix Mutizira, said the residents no longer cared about Mugabe’s actions as his record showed that he had no regard for them.
“Whatever colour he is going to paint us, we don’t care. What has he given us in the last 33 years he has been in power? He gave us the worst and we don’t care what he says or does. We have suffered enough, he abandoned the people long back,” Mutizira said.
Sam Gondongwe said Mugabe’s remarks showed that he was determined to throw away the child together with the bath water.
“It means he would have abandoned even his own supporters,” he said.
Trevor Chimhandire said: “He has to go out of Harare himself because he doesn’t have support and leave those who won the election to stay.”
Simbarashe Moyo, chairman of the Combined Harare Residents’ Association, said: “We don’t expect such comments from a whole President.
“People must not be punished on the basis that they choose someone else. That’s an infringement on people’s democratic right to vote. It’s unfortunate he is saying that and we hope he was not serious because the world over, even in Africa, I have not heard of a President who says that.”
Although Mugabe did not clearly specify what kind of action he would take against the residents, Bulawayo residents expressed fear that the Mugabe administration might stall the city’s economic revival through underfunding.
Mthulisi Moyo from Pelandaba suburb said the city had been victimised for a long time as the government continued to delay projects meant to alleviate the poverty of the residents.
“We have been doing our own things for the past 33 years,” he said. “He (Mugabe) has never brought any meaningful development in this city except make companies to either relocate or close.”
Mbonisi Sibanda, a resident of Magwegwe North, said: “He (Mugabe) revenged a long time ago. How did he expect us to vote for him when he made us suffer for so many years? My father was killed during Gukurahundi and I am an orphan because of him. We should be the ones revenging because he has made us suffer under his unbearable rule.”
Tapiwa Machingaidze of Mahatshula said people no longer cared about Mugabe’s threats because they always had a way of surviving even in the most difficult circumstances.
“We are waiting for his revenge to begin so that we will also find ways to adapt and move forward with our lives.”
Dumisani Nkomo, a local political analyst, cautioned Mugabe against victimising people for voting for the MDC-T, saying it smacked of political intolerance.
“There is a reason why the people voted for the opposition. Mugabe is (supposed to be) a statesman. He should not victimise anyone.”