PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe will not leave power until he is satisfied that the country is on a firm footing towards a clear trajectory that will not be reversed even when he is gone, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.
Chinamasa admitted in an interview on the BBC Hard Talk programme on Monday that the country’s health delivery system was in dire straits.
“Yes, the President is 92, but you must also know the long path he has travelled since 1958. He has definitive views about the destiny of the country. He remains in place to ensure that the trajectory he wants to set in place will be there even when he is gone,” he said.
Chinamasa is in Europe to shore up support for Zimbabwe’s Staff-Monitored Programme that seeks to return the country to the global financial system after years in the cold over rights abuses as well as political and social turmoil.
When his host indicated that Zimbabweans were beginning to call for Mugabe to resign and cited the vicious internal struggles for power currently rocking Zanu PF, Chinamasa, who doubles as Zanu PF legal secretary, instead ducked and said the former liberation movement was still intact.
“To be fair to us, Zanu PF remains a solid, cohesive and formidable political force in Zimbabwe. The instability you talk about is not in our party,” he said.
Asked if First Lady Grace Mugabe would succeed Mugabe and if her record-breaking time to earn a doctorate degree in five months was part of that plan, an angry Chinamasa retorted: “Please do not use this platform to insult our First Lady. She is not the subject of this conversation. We are talking about the President’s age.”
Grace has been fingered as a leading figure in the Zanu PF succession matrix and has become the subject of ridicule after she reportedly had her PhD fast-tracked by the University of Zimbabwe in 2014.
Chinamasa said Zimbabweans were happy with Mugabe even in the face of demonstrations threatening to tip the country over.
“As far as Zimbabwe is concerned, we are happy. As far as Zanu PF is concerned, we are happy. Essentially, the President wants to leave the country on a trajectory in terms of values, in terms of destiny which will not be reversible,” the Finance minister said.
While Mugabe has already been declared the ruling party’s candidate in general elections expected in 2018, Chinamasa claimed Zanu PF was open to internal contestation for Mugabe’s position as party leader.
“Zanu PF is saying anyone who wants to contest is free to do so and if the population agrees then the result will be otherwise, but we should not be dictated to in choosing our leader,” Chinamasa said.
Yesterday, Chinamasa was door-stepped by a group of United Kingdom-based Zimbabwean demonstrators who for the second time inside two days heckled him as he arrived for the fund-raising conference at Chatham House.
For nearly two hours, the protesters quizzed him over the missing $15 billion diamond revenue before British police intervened and escorted him away.
They were later joined by former Finance minister and opposition People’s Democratic Party leader Tendai Biti who is also attending the conference. newsday