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Mnangagwa pledges free elections

by Staff reporter
15 Dec 2017 at 05:49hrs | Views
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday said next year's elections will go ahead as scheduled, promising free and fair polls, but skirted mentioning electoral reforms, which the opposition are demanding.

Mnangagwa yesterday set himself a high bar that includes cleansing Zanu-PF, fixing the national economy, fighting and exposing corruption and re-engagement with the international community at the top of his priority list during his tenure expected to end mid next year.

Officially opening the Zanu-PF central committee meeting ahead of today's extraordinary congress, Mnangagwa, who is completing former President Robert Mugabe's term, said he wanted credible elections.

"The harmonised general elections will be held in 2018 as scheduled," he said.

"The government will ensure this election is credible, free and fair.

"In preparation, the party must invigorate its structures, mobilise meticulously and ensure that all its members are registered to vote.

"These elections are nearer than what we expect."

The main opposition MDC-T immediately responded, saying they would give Mnangagwa the benefit of the doubt.

"We will hold him to his promise.

"For now, the MDC will maintain its push for the putting into place of conditions that are conducive to the holding of free and fair elections," MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said.

"As they say, the taste of the pudding is in the mouth (sic).

"President Emmerson Mnangagwa will be judged by his actions, not by his mere verbal undertakings."

People's Democratic Party spokesperson Jacob Mafume weighed in, saying there must be proof first.

"The taste of the pudding is in the eating," he said.

"Electoral reforms have to be undertaken, the media is not free yet, the laws have to be aligned to the Constitution first. We need reforms and not speeches. We can write and speak good English."

Mnangagwa will be endorsed today as the party's first secretary after Mugabe's ouster last month.

He chronicled what he termed painful events that led him to skip the border into South Africa as the rival Zanu-PF G40 faction was hot on his heels.

After a brief stay in exile, Mnangagwa came back to lead the party and promised a raft of changes and a new culture of governance.

"The congress marks the beginning of hard, honest work that is ensuing of rebuilding all our organs of the party from the cell upwards," Mnangagwa said.

"These now must be prepared not just for a thunderous showing in the forthcoming harmonised general elections, but as part of our broader intent to full vibrancy as a revolutionary party."

He expressed displeasure with the state of the ruling party, saying the women and youth wings needed cleansing.

The two wings, led by the expelled Grace Mugabe and Kudzanai Chipanga respectively, played a critical role in fighting Mnangagwa and positioning G40 for ascendancy.

He said the youth league, which under Chipanga threatened to take the army head-on, needed reorientation.

"I am particularly concerned with the situation at the women's league and the youth league, which were the greatest victims of the counter-revolutionaries, who had captured the party.

"These two vital organs of our party must receive our urgent and compassionate attention so that we put them back on the waves.

"In respect of the youth league, conscious effort must be made to ensure vigorous interventions so that youths reconnect with the ethos of the struggle and value system of the party," Mnangagwa said.

"Regarding the women's league, I will tomorrow (today) announce the new leadership. The extraordinary congress equally marks a shift in paradigm of the party as we concern ourselves with bread and butter issues that affect our people."

Mnangagwa said Zanu-PF structures at all levels must give attention to developmental and economic issues within their wards, districts and provinces.

"Leaders must be truly servants of the people, moved by the matters that affect the people," he said, adding there would be a more symbiotic relationship between the party and government agencies.

Regarding the three months' grace period given to those accused of externalisation of funds, Mnangagwa said there was no going back on his threats and vowed to name and shame the perpetrators.

He vowed to clamp down on corruption which has impoverished the nation.

"I have given three months for those who have taken money out of this country to bring it back.

"I didn't say that without knowledge, I have a list of who took money out so in March when the period expires, those who have not heeded my moratorium, I will name them and shame them," Mnangagwa warned.

Turning to the economy, he said time for politics alone as experienced under the past leadership of Mugabe was long gone and a new paradigm for politics and the economy was ensuing.

"No more, it's politics and economics," he said.

The President revealed that the ruling party was extending the tenure of the central committee to 2022.

"May I say the extraordinary congress that we are having tomorrow is not an elective one in respect of the central committee and all other organs of the party.

"The congress will, therefore, extend the tenure of you the current central committee members, which would have ordinarily expired by 2019.

"Your life has been extended by another five years," he said amid applause and jubilation.

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