Former President Robert Mugabe has hinted he will not vote for Zanu PF if President Emmerson Mnangagwa ignores his offer for dialogue to resolve their dispute that arose during the veteran politician’s ouster by the military last year.
Mugabe gave a wide-ranging interview to a select group of local and foreign journalists in Harare last week. A recording of some yet-to-be-disclosed details about the conversation was made available to The Standard yesterday.
Mugabe said he believes former Foreign Affairs minister Walter Mzembi and ex-Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane, who met him recently, were sent by Mnangagwa’s government to test the waters.
The 94-year-old said after he set conditions for the proposed dialogue with Mnangagwa, which included correcting what he believes were breaches of the constitution, the duo went silent.
“If he does not want to have the situation corrected, we will have to wait for elections that are coming,” Mugabe said.
He said he does not have any links to the Ambrose Mutinhiri-led National Patriotic Front (NPF), which is composed of former members of Zanu PF’s G40 faction, but will support the opposition party if it promoted the ruling party’s values.
“My view is that if they think that the new party will represent the people better, that it will be democratic and avoid hypocrisy and falsehoods that are now characterising our government, and appealing to people in an honest way, I will support that,” he said.
“The NPF, any party that is for democracy has my support and the NPF has come to me and said they want to work towards correcting the present unconstitutionality and all the hypocrisy that is being said, we want that to go.
“People should not say one thing and do another like they say they support me as a legend and working to destroy me. The NPF don’t want that.
“(They want) to regularise the situation and to be truthful and also to ensure that two organisations, Zanu and Zapu, continue as the Patriotic Front and we created that with Joshua Nkomo.”
He indicated that he no longer felt like a member of Zanu PF after he was unceremoniously forced out to make way for Mnangagwa.
“I wasn’t dismissed they say, I wasn’t dismissed, but I am no longer the president of the party, so I was definitely dismissed,” he charged.
Mugabe said he had made his position to Mnangagwa known through his former ministers whom he suspected had been sent by the government.
“I had the likes of Mzembi and Makhosini, and they came,” he told the journalists.
“I think they had been sent here through the system and informed the system that they were coming to discuss with me and they thought what would happen is internal dialogue.
“I said fine, what is internal dialogue? They said well, internal dialogue with President Mnangagwa. I asked them, just that?
“They said well, yes and they went on to describe the past, things that happened in the past and the present and the developments that had taken place in the past, and the present and they thought there was need for people to talk.”
He added: “I said yes, I am ready to talk, but talk about what? We must talk about what has happened and try to find ways and means of correcting it.
“They said, fine, this is what they also had in mind and the fate of those that had been forced out of the party and the system to be allowed to come back.
“I said fine, find out from ED whether he is amenable to discuss the illegality that he is in, he has established. That he is illegal and we must correct that, the correction of the wrong that has happened constitutionally.
“And they went and they never came back and I thought perhaps what they carried by way of message from me wasn’t well-received.”
Mnangagwa appeared to be dismissing Mugabe’s offer for dialogue on Friday, saying Zimbabwe had moved on since his mentor’s resignation.
Mugabe said he was not interested in bouncing back as president as he was now too old. Mugabe also said his wife Grace did not want to be president.
“I don’t want to be a president again because I am now 94,” he said.
“I perhaps look younger than yourself, but age-wise, am 94. But even though, I had my time, I would have wanted to support Emmerson’s bid but through the party system, the system that we have for one to represent the party, you must be elected by the people.
“So he should go through an election process, which he hasn’t done. After working so many years with him, I didn’t think he can be the man to reject an election process.”
Mugabe’s surprise interview came days before the African Union summit in Kigali, Rwanda, where Zimbabwe’s situation is likely to be discussed following the continental body’s fact-finding mission last month.
The long-time ruler said he felt betrayed by Mnangagwa, who refers to him as his father.
“Of course, sons will not always be obedient ones to the father,” Mugabe said.
“He has got his own views, he has got his own character that I perhaps did not quite see or know about him; that of not forgiving.
“If a person stepped on his toes 20 years ago, he will still go after him.
“In that regard, yes and in not wanting to be democratic, he has betrayed the whole nation.
“We used to be a pride, not just of Zimbabwe, but the region Sadc, but now we are a disgrace to ourselves, a disgrace to Sadc and a disgrace to the whole Africa.
“Why do we do this, just for the glory of an individual?”
The relationship between Mugabe and Mnangagwa became strained at the height of factional fights in Zanu PF that pitted the G40 faction against Team Lacoste.
Mugabe said claims that Grace poisoned Mnangagwa were false.