Subdued Mugabe calls for unity

2014-12-07 16:49
Robert Mugabe (AP)

Robert Mugabe (AP)

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Harare - A subdued Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe on Sunday made a call for unity after months of bitter fighting within the ruling Zanu-PF party.

"Our survival as a nation... lies in our transcendental unity," Mugabe, 90, told mourners at the state funeral of a senior member of his party.

"Only with unity can we succeed," he added, speaking 15 hours after he ended a marathon Zanu-PF congress that saw him confirmed as party leader and candidate for the next elections in 2018. He has been in power in Zimbabwe since 1980.

His wife Grace, dressed in black, was also at the funeral of central committee member Kotsho Dube, who died on Monday.

Late on Saturday, Mugabe confirmed he had no intention of retiring from the presidency, vowing: "I am there for as long as I still have some strength in me.

"And I thank God for having given me extra strength. I'll work as hard as possible. For as long as I'm still sane and fully bright in mind, and I think I still have a good memory and a good catchment area in my mind, I will do my best.

"I still have the willpower. I know our history perhaps much more than you do," said Mugabe.

At one point in his speeches at the congress he got slightly confused and chanted: "Pasi neZanu-PF" (Down with Zanu-PF)".

State media on Sunday claimed Mugabe "chose not to succumb to populist pressure" when he did not name at the congress his two new vice presidents, or even confirm that his vice president Joice Mujuru, 59, had definitely been demoted.

Mujuru has been the butt of a vitriolic campaign fronted by Grace - now the new head of the Zanu-PF women's league - who wanted to see the army general's widow demoted. Mujuru and her allies were accused of corruption and plotting to assassinate Mugabe, charges they deny.

Mujuru boycotted the congress, but reappeared briefly on Sunday morning when she went to pay her respects to the late Dube as his body lay in state at the iconic Stoddard Hall building in Mbare, Harare's oldest township, ahead of his burial.

Sources said army chiefs guarding his body stood to attention as she entered the building.

At the burial Mugabe said: "Peace, peace, peace must be allowed to grow roots."

Read more on:    zanu-pf  |  robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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