AFRICANGLOBE – Zimbabweans will be poor for centuries if they repeat the mistake of letting foreigners own the country’s natural resources, President Mugabe has said.
Speaking at a birthday party organised for him by staff in his office at State House, an energetic President Mugabe said Zimbabwe should always negotiate investment deals on its own terms.
The President, who attended the function soon after touching down at the Harare International Airport from Singapore where he had a successful operation to remove a cataract in his left eye, noted that political independence without economic freedom is hollow.
Cde Mugabe turned 90 on Friday.
“Never, never, never again shall we make the mistake of allowing our resources, natural resources, to be owned by foreigners,” he said.
“You will remain poor for centuries. Huge American companies come, even if you have oil, because they have the machinery, capital (and) they will say the oil is theirs.
“They say we will give you 12 percent because these machines cost a lot of money. To hell with those machines! They are not more valuable than the oil that lies underground.
“The diamonds you take away are not created in a day, but your machines can be repaired when they break down. Let us not be hoodwinked by huge caterpillars. Unonzwa vamwe vachiti vakachera ndezvavo. Zvavo zvipi?
“It’s just an elaborate way of digging. Don’t be deceived, makuhwa, zvekunzi hee you are not going to have investment. Amanga.”
Cde Mugabe said it was unacceptable to have foreigners claiming ownership of resources that belong to a country that is said to be independent.
“We just don’t want political freedom, we want economic freedom as well. Kwete kuti maFrench vanozosara vachiti Gabon, yes, you have political freedom but oil iri underground belongs to us.
“The oil belongs to France, which is underground? What do you have then as a country? Now that’s a struggle that must be waged.”
President Mugabe called on Africans not look down upon themselves when they engage a Western world that believes might is always right.
“Sometimes right is might. As long as your cause is right, never accept failure,” he said.
President Mugabe credited his illustrious career as an educationist, liberator and leader of the country to his ability to “adapt without reneging”.
He, however, pointed out that he is just a leader of a team and a nation that is willing to listen and work with him. The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces added that turning 90 years old would not be worth celebrating without valuable experience to show for it.
“You can never be a hero unless you have worked with others. Yes, writers do it alone, but in politics you need others. A good leader listens to his people. He himself is led by the people’s interests.
“. . . 90 is just a number. To me it’s 90 years of experience, both negative and positive.”
The President, who shared warm moments, including affectionate kisses on the cheek, with First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe throughout the programme, hailed the country’s security service chiefs for staying loyal.
“Maservice chiefs amuri kuwona avo vari kunzi security reform, security reform …uno reformer ivava nekuti zvaita sei?
“You can’t reform excellence? I have stuck to them because I know their past, I know their commitment, I know their loyalty not only to me, but to the country.
“Ndiva Tsvangirai vanenge vachiti reform. VaTsvangirai dai matisiira nyaya iyi. Kwenyu kwamunoziva kumarokwe. We don’t compete with you there.”
Speaking at the same occasion, Vice-President Mujuru described Cde Mugabe as a living legend and revolutionary icon.
“We are forever grateful for the guidance and mentorship you have provided, especially to me, your first daughter … Bona you are not the first daughter,” she said amid laughter from the guests, including Miss Bona Mugabe.
Meanwhile, staff in the Office of the President and Cabinet yesterday handed over a gigantic 1,2 tonne chair and a compilation of pictures to Cde Mugabe as birthday presents.
The chair, which is carved in stone and coated in gold, diamonds and several animal skins, is called Simbahwe. It took three artistes – Wilfred Tembo, Simbarashe Farisai Mutokonyi and Bruce Johnson – nearly two years to put it together.
The Chief Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda, disclosed that the three did not request payment for their efforts.
“They said this is their way of honouring you, Your Excellency,” he told the President.
The occasion was attended by members of the First Family, Cabinet ministers and staff from the President’s Office.
The festivities continue at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera today with the hosting of the 21st February Movement celebrations.
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Yesterday, the event organisers were putting the final touches on the venue. The Minister of State for Mashonaland East, Cde Simbaneuta Mudarikwa, said all was set for the major occasion.
“We are very happy to host this event and the required resources have been mobilised. We have the support of the local community, farmers and corporate organisations.
“The gates will open by 6am with entertainment being the first item on the programme. There will also be a musical gala in the evening, lasting up until the next morning.”
South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) political party also congratulated President Mugabe on the occasion of his birthday anniversary.
In a statement, EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Quintin Ndlozi said the President has always been committed to ensuring the freedom of the oppressed.
“President RG Mugabe’s birth has been a symbol of Africa’s resistance against colonial pressure. He has remained committed to his people and the sovereignty of their economy. He has withstood, against all odds, those who have sought to drink the blood of the African people and their birthright.
“Since his youth, President Mugabe has represented the resilience of a fighter for true political and economic freedom for the people of Africa. He has remained consistent as a leader and a statesman and refused to bow to the temptation of capital’s seduction and continues in that spirit 90 years later.
“We celebrate the birthday of President RG Mugabe as a stalwart of all things prosperous for Africa. On this auspicious occasion, EFF wishes to thank the people of Zimbabwe for standing beside their President who represents economic freedom for the people of Africa.
“We call for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe and demand that the world take note that Africa will never return to oppression and economic freedom is an imminent reality.”