PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has scoffed at demands for a meeting by his predecessor former President Robert Mugabe, ostensibly to “return the country to constitutionalism”.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
In a statement yesterday, Mnangagwa came short of telling Mugabe off, saying “Zimbabwe has moved on”. Mugabe according to Mnangagwa has a right like all other citizens to an opinion and government will not be fixated with what he says.
“President Emmerson Mnangagwa has noted recent remarks made to the media by former President Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe. On November 21, 2017, former President Mugabe tendered his resignation in terms of Section 96 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
“He is entitled to express himself freely as is the case for any private citizen. The Zimbabwe government continues to honour all its obligations towards the former President’s welfare and benefits as provided under the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” Mnangagwa said.
Mugabe was forced to resign in the aftermath of a military intervention that confined him to his home and triggered an internal revolt in Zanu PF whose central committee met and removed him from its top job. He was replaced by Mnangagwa whom he had fired only two weeks earlier from his position as Vice-President, as an internal power struggle threatened to engulf the country.
Mnangagwa in yesterday’s statement literally told Mugabe, “you are yesterday’s man”.
“The nation has moved on. Our focus at this time shall remain on preparing for free, fair and credible elections in 2018. This is a key step in the immense task at hand, which is to lift our people from the effects of the years of severe economic regression and international isolation,” the new Zanu PF leader said.
MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora said Mugabe’s hand in finding a solution to Zimbabwe’s political problems depends on “whether he is still part of the problem”.
He said Mnangagwa should convene a national indaba to discuss the legitimacy issue.
“Mnangagwa should call for a national gathering to discuss the return of the country to legitimacy. The demonstration was legal and the MDC-T participated in it. We also agreed with the constitutional process to impeach Mugabe because this was in accordance with the law. However, the MDC-T had no hand in the military intervention and was not consulted. Therefore, it is this part of the process that brings into question the government’s legality and this must be dealt with now,” Mwonzora said.
People’s Democratic Party leader Tendai Biti said while Mugabe was right to say there were questions around Mnangagwa’s legitimacy, elections were the only route.
“The next elections will be key to the process of returning the country to legitimacy. Mugabe was right to say the change of government was a coup. It removes any lingering and it is important now that we get the help of the United Nations, as the African Union as well as Sadc. We need the intervention of international law,” Biti said.