FORMER President Robert Mugabe has claimed that his successor Emmerson Mnangagwa did not invite him to attend the country’s 38th independence celebrations in Harare last week.
Mugabe was responding to reports that the veteran former Zanu PF leader had “frozen himself out” of the country’s Independence Day celebrations last week which were attended by an array of dignitaries, including diplomats and opposition party leaders.
“I definitely was not invited to it (independence celebrations),” Mugabe told NewsDay.
Mnangagwa officiated at the event, the country’s first Independence Day celebrations without Mugabe at the helm since 1980.
Mugabe, who succumbed to military and parliamentary pressure and relinquished power last November, told NewsDay at the weekend that his former spokesperson, George Charamba, had falsely claimed that they had invited him.
“I refer to your article, Mugabe freezes self out of Uhuru on Page 4 of your paper dated Thursday April 19, 2018. I did not freeze myself out of the so-called Uhuru. I, definitely, was not invited to it. This should put paid to all the comments that [George] Charamba had to make on this matter,” Mugabe said without elaborating.
Mugabe’s remarks were in response to Charamba’s utterances last week, where he claimed: “Every Zimbabwean was invited to the celebrations, including those in the opposition and former government.”
Charamba insinuated that Mugabe had primed himself for the event prior to his medical trip to Singapore a few weeks before.
“On March 19, the former President advised the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, in a handwritten note that he was due for medical check-ups.
“He said ‘We will be in Singapore, where we shall remain until April 15. We then return home to arrive on April 16 in time for Independence celebrations’. So, you can see, he is aware of everything and not locked out,” Charamba said.
The presidential spokesperson added: “I think people are expecting too much. It is not possible for the former President to be expected to take an active role in national issues a few months after the changes [of government]. He needs to rest and he is 94. Another thing is he flew back into the country a few days ago from Singapore.”
Charamba served as Mugabe’s spokesperson for decades until the 94-year-old was forced to resign last year at the height of internal power struggles within the ruling Zanu PF party.
In February, Mugabe also reportedly snubbed celebrations organised by the Zanu PF youth league to mark his 94th birthday and stayed away from the public eye on a day set aside as a holiday to honour his legacy.