Mugabe says to chair party congress in December despite being removed from party leadership

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-20 13:22:54|Editor: Yamei
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Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (2nd R) and Zimbabwe Defense Forces Chief Constantino Chiwenga (1st R) pose for photos at State House in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Nov. 16, 2017. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe met Zimbabwe Defense Forces Chief Constantino Chiwenga and South African envoys here on Thursday. (Xinhua/Joseph Nyadzayo)

HARARE, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe told his countrymen on live television on Sunday evening that he will chair the ruling party's congress in December, hours after the ZANU-PF sacked him as party chief.

In his address from the State House, Mugabe, flanked by army generals, acknowledged the presence of ills afflicting his party and said he would chair the ZANU-PF's congress next month to resolve the problems once and for all.

"The congress is due in a few weeks from now and I will preside over its processes, which must not be prepossessed by any acts calculated to undermine or to compromise the outcomes in the eyes of the public," he said.

He said he agreed with the army generals that the infighting in the party was hurting the national economy.

"Among the issues discussed (with the army generals) is that relating to our economy, which as we all know is going through a difficult patch. Of greater concern to our commanders are the well-founded fears that the lack of unity and commonness of purpose in both party and government was translating into perceptions of inattentiveness to the economy," he said.

The internal conflicts in the ruling party were being caused by inter-generational disagreements that must be resolved through merging of old established players as they embrace new rules, he said.

The televised address came not long after the ZANU-PF central committee decided at a special meeting earlier Sunday to remove Mugabe from the position of party leader and give him until noon Monday to resign as president or face impeachment proceedings.

At the same meeting, the ruling party also nullified expulsion of former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa and restored him as member of the central committee.

Mnangagwa and First Lady Grace Mugabe have been contending to succeed Mugabe, one of the longest serving leaders in Africa.

The military intervened and took over control of the country after Mugabe sacked Mnangagwa as his deputy for alleged disloyalty and deceit. Mnangagwa had been Mugabe's political ally for more than 40 years.

Reports said Mugabe and his wife were under house arrest since the military operation on Wednesday.

Mugabe made his first public appearance on Friday since the military takeover, attending a graduation ceremony at the Zimbabwe Open University.

Speaking Sunday on television, Mugabe said the military operation on Wednesday was triggered by concerns arising from their reading of the state of affairs in the country and the party.

"Whatever the pros and cons of the way they went about registering those concerns, I as the president of Zimbabwe and their commander -in-chief do acknowledge the issues they have drawn my attention to and I do believe that these were raised in the spirit of honesty and out of deep and patriotic concern of the stability of our nation and for the welfare of our people."

Mugabe said in his meeting with the military commanders that they underscored the need for the party to collectively start the process to return the nation to normalcy.

Mugabe said the military operation did not amount to a threat to the country's constitutional order nor was it a challenge to his authority as the head of state and government and commander-in-chief of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces.

He said he was happy that throughout the short period of the military intervention the pillars of state remained functioning.

Mugabe said the infighting in his party was affecting government projects and should now stop as the party inaugurates a new work culture which shows a strong sense of purpose and commitment to improving the economy.

Mugabe also acknowledged the role played by liberation war fighters, saying the party will strive to care for their welfare and ensure their participation in strategic party and government positions.

He said the party has to return to its guiding principles as enshrined in the constitution, which must be applied fairly and equitably in all situations.

KEY WORDS: Zimbabwean