Felex Share, Harare Bureau
President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday said he had no hard feelings against former President Cde Robert Mugabe, as he believes most decisions he took during his last days in power were not of his own making.
The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces said Cde Mugabe was being influenced by G40 criminals who took advantage of his advanced age.
President Mnangagwa said he was in constant touch with the former leader.
He made the revelations during a town hall meeting with youths in Harare.
The dialogue was organised by Global Shapers Community, a network of young people driving dialogue, action and change.
Asked by interviewer Vimbai Kajese about his relationship with Cde Mugabe, President Mnangagwa said: “I am here because for the last 54 years he was holding my hand. To me he is my father, mentor, icon, revolutionary leader, but time comes when he gets influenced because, I believe, of age.
“Somebody described people who surrounded him as criminals. So, I do not believe that some of the actions made at the 11th hour were genuinely his own.”
President Mnangagwa said to vindicate that criminals had circled Cde Mugabe, the former leader seemed not to recall that he had fired him as Vice President.
He said Cde Mugabe pleaded with him to return “direct to State House” when he told him that he had fled to South Africa fearing for his life.
“I realised that things were not what I used to know,” President Mnangagwa said. “As a result of that, I have no ill feelings at all towards former President Mugabe. I chat with him.”
President Mnangagwa said instead of getting worried, he felt pity for those who attacked him during the Presidential Youth Interface Rallies.
“Of the nine rallies, we began in Mashonaland East,” he said, responding to how he felt during the rallies. “As we went on, it became slightly harder, slightly troublesome and as we went on it became very worrying.
“I really thought that those who were making accusations on me or some of my colleagues like (George) Charamba were ignorant of who I was and who Charamba was. They also had a perception created outside our actual persons and they misunderstood us.
“If a person misunderstands, you pity him. You do not get worried. So, I was not worried, because I was misunderstood.”
President Mnangagwa said he had since put behind the past and was focusing on unity and development.
“In my inauguration speech, I spoke about reconciliation,” he said. “I spoke about bygones being bygones, meaning there is nothing we can do about the past. Those things have happened.
“The acts of omission and commission which happened in the past, yes, in some areas we get to learn lessons from what has happened, but let us put that behind us because we will not live it again. My message as we go forward is let us preach love, love, unity, unity always.”
President Mnangagwa added: “We are all Zimbabweans, let us accept each other. I believe that every single Zimbabwean, young or old, rich or poor, tall or shot, blind or with eyesight has a role to play and is an important person to bring our nation forward. My appeal is let us look into the future, that is the only space we can improve.”
The dialogue meeting was attended by Vice Presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi, Cabinet Ministers, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda and other senior Government officials.