BY MOSES MATENGA/The Standard
While it may be a case of old age taking its toll on the President, it appeared Mugabe may have been confused by a note from his wife Grace, ordering him off the podium after he had spent too much time rambling irrelevance.
After reading the note, about 15 minutes after having been handed it but seemingly having forgotten he was holding it, Mugabe appeared unsettled before announcing he had been ordered by the First Lady to end his speech.
“Mukadzi anyora uyu, hanzi mave kutaurisa. Ndizvo zvandinoitwa kana kumba. Saka ndinofanira kuteerera,” he said and laughed. (It’s my wife who has written this note. She says I am now talking too much. That’s how I am treated even at home and so I must listen).
Mugabe’s task had been to simply dissolve the old central committee and pave way for the new one, but he had gotten carried away, going on and on about the history of the liberation struggle and his hatred of the British and Americans.
He also revealed he had received a call from former secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa yesterday morning advising him that he was unwell and receiving treatment in South Africa.
He said the beleaguered ex- party administrator had also told him that his wife had fallen sick as well and requested for permission to take her to India for treatment, a request he said he granted.
Mugabe said he wished him speedy recovery. He however went on to speak ill about Mutasa’s alleged plot to topple him.
Mugabe’s “Pasi neZanu PF” slogan was received with shock by the delegates who, apparently at a loss as to how to respond, remained stone quiet.
Apparently, somebody at the high table pointed out the gaffe to him and he immediately corrected himself before taking his seat next to a visibly flustered First Lady.
In his speech, before he was asked to sit down, Mugabe said: “Some people said down with Gamatox. Mutasa, yes he erred, he was afraid maybe. We just heard that he went to South Africa. We don’t want our cadres to die.”
Mugabe said he did not want people who had ideas contrary to values and principles of the party.
He described Vice-President Joice Mujuru as a small girl whom he had met in Mozambique.
“She grew up during war times and fell in love with Mujuru (Solomon) and they got married. Mujuru was in love with lots of women and they fought many times. I urged her to go to school and she did that and later got a doctorate,” he said.
Mugabe said that after the intervention of former Women’s League boss, Oppah Muchinguri and Grace, Zanu PF promoted Mujuru to the position of VP in 2004.
“Oh, after that we heard she engaged n’angas and Mapostori to help her take Mugabe’s post and asking when I would die. They teamed up with Mutasa and others and giving people posts. I thought she was helping yet she was setting up her team. She had a lot of people that she chose together with Mutasa and we figured that out,” Mugabe said.
In her acceptance speech, after her formal appointment to the Women’s League top post, Grace said she would work with women and youths for the good of the party.
She was quick to jump into her trademark attack of Mujuru saying she (Grace) got angry with her after she mobilised resources to have her booed during the “meet the people tours”.
Former political commissar Webster Shamu cut a lone and miserable figure at the front chairs after he was stripped of his role as master of ceremonies.