PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe Tuesday conveniently skipped the country’s crippling cash shortages and massive joblessness as he led thousands who thronged the National Sports Stadium to mark the country’s main 37 years of independence.
In comments also dismissed by his political opponents, President Mugabe said all Zimbabweans were free to belong to political parties of their own choice.
“We need to continue as true patriots, true sons and daughters of the soil, to continue that unity to ensure that we all belong to Zimbabwe,” President Mugabe said.
“Regardless of our affinities whether these are religious, tribal political or other, we are all Zimbabweans and we should respect each other; all of us as Zimbabweans and respect even the areas where we have these affinities.
“People have the right to belong to a party of their choice, to a religion of their choice. So, let them pursue their own chosen line as they desire.”
His comments however invited scorn from MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu who said the Zimbabwean leader has never been sincere in his utterances.
“The man cannot and indeed can never be trusted,” Gutu said to NewZimbabwe.com.
“On the ground, his regime remains as intolerant as ever. Opposition demonstrations are violently and ruthlessly crushed. The Zanu PF regime is a vile dictatorship that is beyond redemption.”
President Mugabe has also been accused of waging a violent 2008 presidential run-off campaign in which his militant followers were linked to vindictive killings on some members of the electorate who had rejected the Zimbabwean strongman during the first round of the poll.
In his keynote speech Tuesday, President Mugabe also praised the country’s security organs for maintaining peace in the country.
He also urged locals to remain “vigilant” in the wake of what he said was the enemy’s unrelenting attempts to patronise his country even after 37 years of black rule from Britain.
“As we today celebrate our hard-won independence, I wish to urge you to remain vigilant remembering that the enemy is ever ready to pounce on any signs of laxity and weakness on our part. We celebrate as a vigilant nation,” he said.
But the Zimbabwean leader infuriated his opponents by skipping in his prepared speech, the country’s worsening cash crisis that has seen citizens spend lengthy hours outside banking halls hoping to withdraw their cash.
PDP spokesperson Jacob Mafume took time to rebuke the President for an omission he said was evidently deliberate.
“He probably thinks cash shortages are propaganda and that queues outside the banks are a sign of wealth,” Mafume said.
“He is not running the country at all.”
Mafume said Mugabe did this deliberately and did not want to seem to be acknowledging the effects of his failures.
The ailing 93-year-old leader, was accompanied by his wife Grace, struggled through his prepared speech and walked with a wobbling gait.