PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday intensified his onslaught against Zanu PF’s senior leaders, charging that Bulawayo and Harare provincial leaders have failed.
Looking energised a day after returning from an eye surgery in Singapore, Mugabe told thousands of guests who attended his 90th birthday celebrations at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera that thieving government officials would be jailed.
He said Zanu PF leaders in Bulawayo and Harare should make way for fresh blood because they had failed.
“Let the leaders of these two cities, Harare and Bulawayo, open up . . . you cannot say Harare is for Zezurus only while Bulawayo is for Ndebeles only, they are a lot of tribes in these cities,” Mugabe charged.
“The leaders who failed should give others a chance . . . you have failed.”
Zanu PF has performed dismally in Bulawayo and Harare since the formation of a united MDC in 1999. The provinces have also been hit by factionalism.
Mugabe last week in an interview with ZBC on the eve of his birthday promised to deal with factionalism, which he admitted was linked to his contentious succession.
In Marondera, he lashed out at politburo and central committee members who undermine provincial chairpersons.
“I said the provincial chairpersons are the leaders of the provinces not politburo and central committee members,” Mugabe said.
“That should be understood and of-course we shall get respect by virtue of belonging to a senior organisation, but it is not right that we impose ourselves on our provinces.”
The election of provincial executives last year was marred by serious infighting as the Zanu PF factions sought to position themselves in the event that Mugabe exits the scene.
However, he has used events around his birthday this weekend to warn those linked to factions that they risked expulsion from the party. Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa have often been touted as leaders of the warring factions, but have both denied harbouring ambitions to take over from Mugabe.
The nonagenarian also warned government officials involved in corruption that they risked jail.
“We want straightforward, honest people who will respect government property, private property which doesn’t belong to them,” he said.
“It doesn’t mean everyone is a thief, but the few that were entrusted with managing government property are the ones we are going to send to jail.”
Zanu PF is reeling from disclosures that executives at most parastatals, who have close links to the party, are involved in looting orgies. Before cutting his giant cake, which took the shape of a pangolin, Mugabe said he felt youthful.
“I feel as youthful and energetic as a boy of nine,” he said.
“At times I think of how I have survived over the years, escaping death, many of my friends and relatives have died.
“It saddens me at times, but at the same time you are happy that you have turned 90.”
Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.
At yesterday’s ceremony organised by the communist style 21st February Movement, several cakes were on display at the grounds and Mugabe was showered with a number of presents.