Levi Mukarati in Mutoko
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has set a seven-member team of lawyers to constitute the recently established Anti-Corruption Prosecution Unit in his office, as the fight against graft intensifies.
The President has since his inauguration last year pledged to fight corruption, which he singled out as stymieing economic growth and scaring foreign investors away.
Corruption became pervasive in the past two decades under the old administration led by former President Mr Robert Mugabe, resulting in Zimbabwe being listed among the most corrupt countries in the world.
President Mnangagwa said those engaging in corruption should be warned that the law will soon catch up with them.
He was addressing multitudes here yesterday at a rally at Chinzanga Primary School, meant to drum support and unveil the ruling party’s candidates for Mashonaland East Province ahead of elections pencilled for 30 July.
“This new dispensation says down with corruption, down with corruption, down with corruption. I hear that here, there are councils, rural district councils and urban councils that are corrupt,” said the President to thunderous cheers from the bumper crowd.
“Now, I want those who are engaging in corruption to listen. Today, before I came here, I had a meeting with seven lawyers, prosecutors.
“I have assembled a team of seven well experienced prosecutors. I have established the Anti-Corruption Prosecution Unit in the Office of the President to deal with corruption issues. So (those engaging in corruption) be warned.”
President Mnangagwa said he was confident Zimbabwe will hold free, credible and violent-free elections.
Government, he said, was informed by the stubborn belief in the country’s capacity to preside over a democratic plebiscite to invite several election observer and monitoring teams.
“We have elections that are coming in July. We have invited all Sadc countries, African Union, EU (European Union) the United Nations and even other countries in the East to observe our elections,” said the President.
“We have invited them because we do not want violence. As a party, why would we want to fight with small puppies? Let the puppies roam around as we ignore them.
“No violence, we want free, fair and credible elections. We have invited foreign election observers because I am very confident.
“My leadership, my colleagues are very confident that we are capable of holding free and fair elections. We are mature in Zanu-PF.
“That is why I wanted to meet other leaders from contesting parties so that they commit themselves to ensure that we hold non-violent elections, but the meeting could not be held because I am told we now have so many political parties.
“So we need to wait until the nomination court sitting to know who will be contesting.
“I would want every leader, including myself, to commit to non-violence, to a clean campaign, a free election, a credible election. We must remain united, and the future of this country is bright. The new era is coming and together, let us enter Cannan while united.”
President Mnangagwa said he was pleased with the numbers that turned out for yesterday’s rally, emphasising that Mashonaland East Province is the backbone of the ruling party.
“Ndafara ndichikuvonai neuwandu hwenyu. Kuno muri musvo weZanu-PF. Muri musvo zvekuti izvo kana Mashonaland East ikatadza kuendesa vanhu kuParliament, ahh, Zanu-PF inenge yatoremara.
“Mashonald East is the backbone of the party. This is where the party is. Your numbers are testimony that this is a no-go area if you are not Zanu-PF.
“I can feel my blood flowing smoothly when I am here because I am in the midst of people who support Zanu-PF.”
President Mnangagwa urged those seeking to represent the party in next month’s elections to respect traditional leaders.
He said chiefs are custodians of the land and areas under their jurisdiction.
“I want to plead with the leadership of the party that they should respect the traditional leaders in the areas they come from.
“I also urge Government employees to respect traditional leaders in the areas they work in.
“The Government has said it will look after the welfare of the chiefs because our traditions and values are safeguarded by the chiefs.
“We have respect for our traditional leaders and they have a space in our national Constitution.
“But the traditional leaders must remember that there is a party called Zanu-PF.
“You lead subjects in areas within your jurisdiction, but Zanu-PF leads the whole country. So be united with Zanu-PF and work with it.”
President Mnanagwa said he is aware of the cash crisis, saying the challenges had mostly affected the rural folk who have little access to electronic financial systems.
The Head of State and Government said a significant chunk of money had been set aside under the Basic Education Assistance Model (Beam) to afford children a right to education.
The new dispensation, he added, had brought hope to the country.
“We are a new dispensation, we are a new Zimbabwe, we are a new era, (and) we want a new future,” he said.
“We are a new dispensation that has brought about a new hope for this country.
“We are bringing hope for the young, hope for the old, hope for our children, hope for our grandparents. We are a party of hope, a party that must preserve the heritage of our country.
“We are a party that is non-selective and we are saying everyone in Zimbabwe should benefit from our legacy.”
President Mnangagwa said Zanu-PF’s primary elections were, like any political game, bound to bring clashes and disputes, but the losing candidates should accept defeat.
The country and party had reached a stage where it was under siege from a few individuals, but the nation rose against being held to ransom, he said.
He said the new political administration had come up with a programme to guarantee food security.
He said the new economic thrust was to modernise and mechanise agriculture to ensure the country puts 350 000 hectares of land under irrigation.
Currently, irrigation equipment is being imported from India, Spain, Brazil and China to ensure a good harvest each year, he added.
The rally was attended by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga and his wife, Mary, the ruling party’s National Chairperson, Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Zanu-PF Politburo and Central Committee members and others from various party organs.