President Mnangagwa yesterday said despite an attempt on his life at White City Stadium in Bulawayo on Saturday, where a hand grenade was thrown at him, the July 30 harmonised elections will proceed, as the political environment is conducive for the plebiscite.
Speaking at a press conference at State House in Tanzania after holding talks with host President Dr John Magufuli, President Mnangagwa – who is here for a two-day State visit at the invitation of the East African country’s leader – said after the plebiscite, the two sister republics will hold a Joint Permanent Commission in Harare.
“You might be aware of the events that took place on Saturday when a hand grenade was thrown at me,” said President Mnangagwa. “But since you see me here, it means I am now fine.
“That was a minor incident, we are going to proceed with elections. We have opened up democratic space and we now have 133 political parties, but (for) President, we are better (than) Tanzania, we are 23 (candidates); here (in Tanzania), you had 42 candidates.”
The Head of State and Government also gave an update on senior Government officials who were injured during Saturday’s assassination attempt.
Vice President Kembo Mohadi, he said, was seriously injured and had to be airlifted to South Africa, where he is now recovering.
Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri was also taken to South Africa where she was operated on, as shrapnel reportedly pierced her chest.
She is now understood to be recovering as well.
According to President Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania will have an opportunity to deepen their relations after next month’s polls.
“After the elections – which of course I am going to win – in August, we will resuscitate the Permanent Joint Commission to deal with all areas, particularly the area of cooperation,” he said.
Zimbabwe and Tanzania, he added, are inextricably linked as the East African country used to provide moral, technical and material support to
Zimbabwe’s liberation movements – then Zanu and Zapu- during the struggle for independence.
The role that Tanzania played as a “midwife” to the country’s independence, including to those of other African countries, added President Mnangagwa, should be both remembered and cherished.
“Tanzania is the midwife of our freedom,” he said. “It is our duty, we of the older generation, to teach that legacy. Tanzania must be understood and cherished by the younger generation.”
Tanzania, through then President Julius Nyerere, also played a key role in uniting the two revolutionary parties in Zimbabwe.
President Mnangagwa gave assurances that his administration will always highly regard former President Robert Mugabe’s legacy as an icon, founding father of the republic and Pan-Africanist.
He indicated that his political administration will only borrow the good lessons from the past in order to forge a sustainable platform for the country’s future growth.
“Our former President is the founding father; he is an icon and Pan-Africanist and that cannot be forgotten,” he said.
“We will engage with countries that had not engaged with us before, and we will re-engage with countries that had disengaged during the period of sanctions. We are saying let us re-engage. But this relates to countries or nations that are outside, but with countries such as Tanzania, that is not engagement – we are friends and brothers.
“The past is gone. The past has good lessons; the past has bad lessons; we should not forget the bad lessons, but we mustn’t carry them into the future.”
The new political administration was now seized with transforming the economy to provide decent jobs, eradicate poverty and create a society free from corruption, said President Mnangagwa.
Accordingly, Government is now making deliberate efforts to improve productivity on farms.
“Now the land reform is behind us, but now the task we have is to increase production; we have to modernise our agriculture; we have to mechanise our agriculture,” said President Mnangagwa. “Tanzania is ahead of us (in agriculture).”
Speaking at the same occasion, President Magufuli said it was time to use the strong political relations that exist between Zimbabwe and Tanzania as a plinth to deepen economic ties.
“We have agreed to use our membership of Sadc to broaden our trade relations,” he said. “We have agreed with my colleague that the Joint Permanent Commission must meet immediately to deal with impediments to trade.”
There was scope, he said, for Zimbabwe to invest in agriculture and the agro-processing industry.
Instead of the two countries competing for space in the tourism industry, they could easily package their various tourism products such as the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and the Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro and beaches in Zanzibar (in Tanzania) as a single product, said President Magufuli.
He also believes the air service agreement between the two countries will help the country’s flag carrier ply the Tanzania and Zimbabwe route.
It is envisaged that trade relations will also cover health, ICT, arts, sports and defence and security.
President Magufuli particularly noted that local film production Neria had captured the imagination of some Tanzanians.
“Zimbabwe and Tanzania ties must be further enhanced as was in the past,” he said.
Despite the strong political relations between the two countries, trade volumes have remained worryingly low, rising from $8,5 million in 2016 to $9,5 million in 2017.
President Mnangagwa touched down at Julius Nyerere International Airport yesterday and was met by President Magufuli, charge de affairs of the Zimbabwean Embassy Mr Martin Tavenyika, and senior officials from the Tanzanian government.
Soon after his arrival, he received a 21-gun salute and inspected a guard of honour before he was treated to traditional music among a mosaic of pageantry that was rolled out by the host Government. He later in the day met Zimbabweans living and working in Tanzania.
President Magufuli also held a State banquet for his guest.