Nduduzo Tshuma in Gweru
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday presented himself before the country’s chiefs where he walked them through last year’s transition process that saw him assuming the country’s leadership following the resignation of his predecessor Cde Robert Mugabe.
Addressing the traditional leaders at the Zanu-PF Convention Centre in Gweru, President Mnangagwa said the meeting was the first of similar engagements lined up with various stakeholders including captains of industry, youths and university students as well as war veterans.
The meetings would also be followed by the President’s tour of the country’s 10 provinces.
President Mnangagwa said he was also on a tour of regional neighbours briefing them on the transition revealing that the leaders he has visited thus far have shown support to the country.
“I invited you so that we meet. It was going to be good to visit each of you at your respective homes to say this is what is happening now but after I was told that you are more than 280, if I visited each of you once a week, it was going to take me three years to tell you that I, your son, is the one who is there now.
“That’s why I asked you all to gather here and we meet. You may have heard that there was a transitional period that led to the resignation of our father, the founding father of our nation and revolution Cde Mugabe resigned and the Zanu-PF Central Committee re-appointed me as Vice-President,” said President Mnangagwa.
“Following the resignation of Cde Mugabe and in line with our constitution, when a President resigns, the party with a majority in Parliament nominates a member of their party to be President. The Zanu-PF Central Committee then selected me to be President and communicated the decision to the Speaker of Parliament.
“As a result of that, I was inaugurated on November 24, last year and in December we had our congress that the party had planned for earlier, where I was endorsed as Zanu-PF President.”
President Mnangagwa said the meeting was to confirm to the chiefs as their son that he was now the Head of State.
“I thought that it would be good that I, your son, come to you as my fathers, you may have heard through gossip but it’s true that I’m now President,” he said, drawing a rousing applause from the floor.
President Mnangagwa said it was important that he engaged the chiefs first in his national tour because of the important role they play in the country as custodians of the land and culture.
“After the chiefs I will meet the churches, after the churches, the third group that I will meet are the captains of industry. The fourth group I will meet are the war veterans. After that I will meet the youngsters, the students,” he said.
He said the goal of the meetings was to ensure that everyone proceeds with one vision on working towards the interests of the country.
President Mnangagwa said the new Zanu-PF Political Commissar, Lieutenant General (Retired) Engelbert Rugeje had also requested that the President tours the country’s 10 provinces holding rallies.
“They are not (presidential youth) interface, they will be proper rallies discussing building the country and that everyone has an equal role in the building of the country and we should all be committed in building our country,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said the country being in the Sadc region; enjoys friendship with the 15 countries in the regional block.
“We agreed with my deputies that it was important to go and explain the new order, I am going to visit my seniors, the senior President in Sadc. So far, I started with South Africa because President Jacob Zuma is the present chairperson of Sadc. Yesterday, we were in Luanda, Angola where we met President Joao Lourenco who is the chair of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said tomorrow he would visit Namibian President Hage Geingob then on Wednesday Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi followed by Zambia the following day and then Botswana on a State visit explaining what had happened in the country.
He said the leaders he had engaged so far are happy about the peaceful transition that happened in the country.
President Mnangagwa said he promised the neighbouring leaders that Zimbabweans would take good care of Cde Mugabe in the best way they could as he is the father of the nation.
The President also presented 52 vehicles to chiefs, 48 to six traditional leaders per province then three to the three female chiefs and one to Chief Mapanzure.
He said the delivery of the vehicles to chiefs was in fulfilment of a promise made during the meeting of the Chief’s Council in Bulawayo during the reign of Cde Mugabe last October.
“Some would be saying why this transition came before we were given vehicles,” chuckled the President.
He, however, said the process had already been afoot to fulfil the promises to the chiefs.
“I said to myself, if I wait for all the cars to be delivered you will start wondering that this young man got into the position of President and forgot that the country has its owners.
“I decided that before all of them are delivered, we should meet, so far there are 52 that have been delivered and we are expecting another batch in the coming week and the rest in due course,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said he met Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Local Government Minister July Moyo and Reserve Bank Governor John Mangundya where they agreed that all chiefs would get their vehicles before elections.
President Mnangagwa called on the chiefs to spearhead development in their respective areas by taking part in the Government programmes like Command Agriculture.
He also implored the chiefs to lead in the preaching of peace and love in the country, especially as the country draws towards national elections.