Mugabe Regrets Violent Past

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe Wednesday made his first public appearance after rumours he was dying of cancer to address the country’s 32nd independence anniversary celebrations.

The 88-year-old leader who usually uses such occasions to spew vitriol at opponents, sounded conciliatory in a 50 minute speech delivered before a capacity crowd at a 60,000 seater-Harare stadium.

President Mugabe called for peace ahead of a referendum on a new constitution and General Election he wants held this year.

He expressed regret about past political clashes, saying Zimbabwe must be free to join parties of their choice.

“We have done wrong to our people, because we were fighting amongst ourselves,” President Mugabe said.

“Let’s ensure that the fights of yesterday are buried in the past and that we organise ourselves on the basis of free choice.”

Firm seizures

On March 31, the veteran ruler travelled to Singapore for a fortnight, sparking international media reports that he was battling for his life.
He has not commented about the reports since his return to the country last Thursday and the Independence Day celebrations was his first major public engagement.
President Mugabe reiterated his calls for General Election this year and expressed concerns about delays in the drafting of a new constitution.

The event to mark the end of British colonial rule in April 1980 was marred by disagreements in Harare’s inclusive government over the theme.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party objected to a theme celebrating the seizure of foreign owned companies through a policy promoted by President Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party.
The Zimbabwean Government introduced a law compelling foreign companies to cede 51 per cent of their shareholding to locals, which Mr Tsvangirai says was driving away desperately needed investors.

The MDC leader attended the celebrations, but did not address the event televised on state television.
Zimbabwe’s previous elections have been marred by violence and the last polls in 2008 were inconclusive, leading to the formation of the inclusive government.

Culled: Africa Review

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