The news cycle is rife with fresh speculation that the 92-year old leader of Zimbabwe – who has ruled the country since independence in 1980 – will be stepping down.
This follows a speech President Robert Mugabe gave in Harare on Sunday. His vice-presidents, cabinet ministers and senior leaders of the security forces, police and intelligence attended the meeting.
One report quoted Mugabe as saying “I’ll retire properly”, another said he had “hinted” at retirement, while the South African news site eNCA.com less hesitantly declared: “Robert Mugabe announces retirement”.
Africa Check’s correspondent in Zimbabwe, Malvern Mkudu, was at the meeting. He confirmed that news site Zimbabwe NewsDay’s transcription below, which we translated, is accurate.
Mugabe: “Kana ndichikanganisa mondiudza (kuti) ndakanganisa, I will go.”
Translation: “If I am failing, let me know. I will go.”
Mugabe: “We are in a critical time yeregime change. Kuti tikuturwe nemabhunu vachiti we want to change the Government of Zimbabwe, yatakarwira kudaro tese tikaita ziya, dikita, tikayambuka manzizi? Haaaa, ndakati aiwa. The British, Americans vakabatana . . . but I think we have defeated them. Saka change inouyaka zvakanaka.
“If I have to retire, let me retire properly; vanhu vogarawo pasi zvakanaka, kwete zvekuenderana kun’anga zvanga zvichiita mai ava [Joice Mujuru] vatisiya ava vachiita Zimbabwe [People] First. Ah, zvinenge zvisina kunaka.”
Translation: “We are in a critical time of regime change. To think that we will be toppled by whites who say ‘we want to change the government of Zimbabwe’ – which we fought for all these years, will we simply yield? I say no. The British [and] Americans are working hand in hand, but I think we have defeated them. So change will come in good time.
“If I have to retire, let me retire properly; people must sit down and discuss it cordially and not go to traditional healers such as that woman did [former vice- president Joice Mujuru], leaving us and calling themselves Zimbabwe [People] First [the party Mujuru started after she was expelled from ZANU-PF by Mugabe]. Ah, that’s just not OK.”
Mugabe used the rest of his speech to criticise disloyal ZANU-PF members and make further promises to war veterans.
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