PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has assured countries in the region that his government will continue looking after the welfare of former President Robert Mugabe, South African leader and Sadc chair Jacob Zuma revealed on Thursday.
Zuma told journalists in Pretoria following a closed-door meeting with Mnangagwa that the new Zimbabwean leader had assured him that Mugabe was in good hands.
“I have been assured that the founding father of Zimbabwe, former President Mugabe, will be looked after. There will be no problems at all,” Zuma said.
Mugabe was forced to resign last month following a November 14 bloodless military intervention aimed at stopping a brutal internal power struggle that had engulfed the ruling party Zanu PF, hence threatening the stability of the country.
The then Zimbabwean leader, who was placed under house arrest, initially dug in, but capitulated after Zanu PF triggered impeachment proceedings against him on November 21.
Zuma paid tribute to Mugabe and, like Mnangagwa, referred to the former Zimbabwean strongman as “our father”.
“He [Mugabe] is our father. He grew up in the struggle and we have appreciated that this is what is important that in Africa, we should look after our elders,” Zuma said.
Both Mnangagwa and Zuma once served as heads of civil and defence during the liberation struggles of the two countries.
Making his maiden foreign trip since taking charge, Mnangagwa said he had called on Zuma for guidance.
“I felt on my 26th day in office I must come to my brother and receive guidance. He is a very experienced President,” he said.
“I felt that the challenges we face, the first port of call is to go to my colleague and say Your Excellency, I have taken the leadership of Zimbabwe, I seek your guidance in whatever challenges I may face. I have had no doubt he would give his complete and honest guidance.”
South Africa is Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner and Mnangagwa said his administration would be economic-oriented.
“My administration will focus on economics and trade co-operation. South Africa is Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner. There might be challenges, but as brothers and sisters, I have come to assure President Zuma that we should feel open to discuss any challenges in order to grow our respective economies and co-operation,” the President said.
Mugabe and Mnangagwa fell out in the last days of the former’s Presidency, with the then Zanu PF leader using public platforms to denigrate his deputy, while the then VP’s supporters claimed he had been poisoned at a rally in Gwanda using ice-cream from Gushungo Dairies owned by the former First Family.
The former President is currently in the Far East for routine medical treatment at the expense of the State.