PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday paid tribute to his former coalition partners for shelving party differences to produce a new Constitution and for holding peaceful elections.
Addressing thousands of people during his acceptance speech soon after his inauguration at the National Sports Stadium in Harare yesterday, Mugabe pleaded for unity, saying Zimbabweans were bound by a common destiny and should work together.
“I owe nothing, but praise and respect to my Global Political Agreement (GPA) era partners who are also my fellow countrymen,” Mugabe said.
“I am referring to former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, former Deputy Prime Minister Professor Arthur Mutambara and much later, Professor Welshman Ncube. We have worked together, initially compelled by GPA protocols, we eventually found each otherand proceeded to produce the current Constitution.
“This is our land, our country together and for as long as our nation subsists, so will elections and opportunities they offer. Our common destiny binds us to work together, never to cross purposes. More important, that destiny binds us to work for the wellbeing and in defence of our people who must always come first.”
Mugabe attacked Western powers whom he said refused to endorse his victory and lift sanctions imposed on his regime.
He described the elections that handed him victory as “engrossing, if not nail-biting” because of the “undue politicisation and publicity” of the country’s polling process. He said the country was always depicted as a society at war and a society driven by conflict.
“Genuine friends feared that the five uneasy years during which the coalition had survived — barely — would soon see Zimbabwe to this violent patch which had slurred its electoral honour,” Mugabe said.
Referring to the West, Mugabe said: “Our enemies and detractors sought to goad us towards such a self-destructive path.”
He said Western countries were free to hold negative views about Zimbabwe “for as long as they recognise that the majority of our people endorsed the electoral outcome”.
“It is their sole prerogative and no outsiders, however, superior or powerful they may imagine themselves to be, can override that right, let alone take it away from them. It is our inherent right. We fought for it when it was lost,” Mugabe said.
“Today, we tell the dissenting nations that the days of colonialism and neo-colonialism are gone, and gone forever. Today, it is these Anglo-Saxons who dare contradict Africa’s verdict over an election in Zimbabwe, an African country. Who are they, we ask? Who gave them the gift of seeing better than all of us?” Mugabe asked.
He said Zimbabwe would use its abundant resources to bust sanctions, while the mining sector would play a critical role in the rebuilding of the economy.
He, however, said Zimbabwe would continue to look for partnerships and friendships internationally.
Mugabe promised to honour all the promises he made during his campaigns, which among them, include reviving agriculture and industry, particularly in Bulawayo, resuscitating the national water system, infrastructural development and job creation.
He once again promised to fulfil his pledge to improve the working conditions, including salaries of civil servants – Newsday.