President Robert Mugabe has noted the anger in the people of Manicaland Province after Chinese diamond firms failed to honour their pledge towards one of the country’s largest and much talked about community share ownership schemes launched in the province a few years ago.
Several Chiadzwa diamond firms pledged US$50 million towards the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust (CSOT), but never honoured their pledge much to the displeasure of the government, supposed beneficiaries of the CSOT and the entire Manicaland provincial community.
Addressing thousands of Zanu PF party members during the Presidential Youth Interface rally at Sakubva Stadium in Mutare this afternoon, Cde Mugabe said he also was not pleased by the conduct of the diamond miners, something that forced the government to take drastic action.
“Neniwo ndineshungu nezvakaitika. Takazovatorera tikati chiendai zvenyu, nokuti taida kuti zvicherwa zvedu zvicherwe zvakanaka [I was also pissed off by what happened and that is why we decided not to renew their licences and tell them to go because we wanted to see our resources being exploited in a right way,” said Cde Mugabe, adding that the government’s decision to consolidate diamond mining activities was met with resistance by some mining firms, which unsuccessfully took the matter to court.
President Mugabe said empowerment has always been the government’s priority since independence.
He said after winning the war, “the government saw it fit to redistribute land as it was part of the objectives of the liberation struggle. We saw it fit to reward the fighters of the liberation struggle, the war veterans, by setting aside 20 percent of land in all resettlements. They must not cry foul today, saying we have done nothing. Let’s stop denigrating and forgetting the efforts of the government. We had goals and these aims have always been about helping the people.”
On the Command Agriculture Programme, President says it was the brainchild of the First Lady, Dr Grace Mugabe and the presidium tasked Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to pursue and implement it.
He added that: “I am happy that the programme coincided with good rains and eventually became a resounding success with a bumper harvest this season.”
On education, President Mugabe said they have come up with a deliberate policy which stipulates that no child should be chased away from school for failing to pay school fees.
“We have also made a pledge to pay fees for children of war veterans. Yes we are facing a few challenges and we have not been able to be up-to-date with our payments but we are trying. Also, war veterans are not the only ones who suffered to liberate the country, there are also those who were incarcerated in various prisons and detention camps, and we are trying to help and empower them in various ways,” he said.
Cde Mugabe also called on peace and unity in the party, hailing the Youth League for showing the way to some rowdy and divisive party elements, by organising such rallies
“Senior members of the party must stop corrupting these youths with money and other gifts for their selfish agenda. We were not bought during the liberation struggle, we never accepted to fight our leaders like [Joshua] Nkomo. We were always united. Today, some senior members use tribal means and money, telling youths that ‘support my positional standing, what standing? Then never think that when you buy these youths, other don’t see or observe it,” the President warned.
“So we need to have youths, who we trust, who can take over our legacy and leadership of the country,” Cde Mugabe added.
Earlier in his address, President Mugabe went down memory lane, reflecting on how the liberation struggle was won against the tyrannical white minority regime.
“The liberation struggle was not going to be successful if we were not united, had there been discrimination and tribalism amongst us the blacks, it was not going to be successful if people were jostling for positions,” he said.
Cde Mugabe, who started his speech by mimicking Jah Praizah’s song: ‘Mudhara Achauya,’ said he was amazed by the attendance at today’s rally, rhetorically questioning if the Youth League will be able to mobilise such people at future gatherings.