The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: I've a Divine Task, Says President

PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday said God had charged him to serve Zimbabwe and pledged to carry on the "divine task" without backtracking.

The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces made the remark at State House at a party to celebrate his 89th birthday organised by staff from his office.

President Mugabe turns 89 today.

"In my small way, this is the task the Lord might have wanted me to fulfil among my people and as I carry the burden of fulfilling it, it being a divine task, I read it as a bidding of God. A commandment that this is how you serve your nation," President Mugabe said.

He added: "The bidding says you move forward ever. Do not retrace when you are right. No backward movement when you are right. Your principles must be well defined. If they are those principles meant to enhance your people so they fit on the great neighbourhood, then there is no retreating. Principles become sacred."

President Mugabe thanked God for reaching 89 years.

"It is He, our Creator, who is responsible for the fact that I am 89, and true when you get to that stage you cannot avoid thinking that yesterday when I was younger we were many. Some have dropped off. Where are they gone?

"The Lord has chosen that they go. The Lord has chosen that I remain. Why is it that all my friends are gone and my relatives are gone and I continue to linger on? It is not my choice. It is His choice. Painful choice. As you move from stage to stage, there is a kind of loneliness and solitude around you because of the loss of friends, loss of relatives and of very dear ones.

"You say to yourself that is life. That is how He who has made us, wants us to sustain life. He destroys here and constructs there. That is it, and we continue to live," he said.

President Mugabe said God gives people life so that they fulfil objectives and enables them to make the most apt choices.

"And the choice that we make is that we shall live to serve others as indeed we serve ourselves, our nation and our country. The Lord wants us to be Zimbabweans in their own country with right of ownership over our own resources with abilities and capabilities to defend those rights against those who want to encroach on them," he said.

President Mugabe thanked staff in his office, the security forces, the media and everyone who has been supportive of his leadership.

To staff in his office, he said: "Let us continue to be that united. If you are not united as the engine, we make all kind of disjointed noises and the engine will not be able to pull. We should be able to pull, pull and pull ourselves so that we pull the nation. It is a joy to work with you, to work with people with confidence in you," he said.

President Mugabe applauded the intelligence and security services for performing "a wonderful work" in exposing activities of the enemy and taking the necessary preventive measures.

Chief Secretary to the Presidency and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda, speaking on behalf of staff in the President's Office, said they were honoured to be among a few Zimbabweans to work with President Mugabe.

"We continue to draw inspiration from your enduring legacy," he said.

Staff in the President's Office showered the Head of State and Government and Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces with gifts. Reserve Bank Governor Dr Gideon Gono has given President Mugabe 89 cows as gifts to mark his birthday. Dr Gono had pledged to give President Mugabe a beast on each of his brithdays, the President noted.

The celebrations saw distinguished singer Shingisai Suluma serenading the First Family and guests with gospel songs.

Her performance yesterday followed a special request by President Mugabe during celebrations to mark his birthday in Mutare last year that Mai Suluma play him the song Munongondichengeta (nanhasi).

While Mai Suluma remained in Zimbabwe after the Christmas Holidays, his husband and family flew into the country from the US on Tuesday night for the celebrations.

President Mugabe praised Mai Suluma and her band for the highly spiritual songs.

"Shungu yakabuda kwaMutare yekuti vandiimbire rwumbo urworwo rwokuti mwari anondichengeta. Tinotenda nokuti anotichengeta kana paripapi urimwana wake achikuda panotsvedza, panotyisa, pangave pane mhepo inovhuvhuta zvakadii ichitora vamwe inokusiya. Dzimbo dzavo dzakadzama. Matendero haasi okungo pfugama uchiti baba vedu varikudenga tinokutendai. Ivo vanechipo chokuti zvibve zvatapira zvikurukuru," President Mugabe said.

He said it was a rare calibre of musicians in the mould of Mai Suluma.

"Mazwi avanawo orutendo kunamwari abva apinda mumoyo medu ngatianzwisise. Rudo rwavo ndinorutenda zvikurukuru. Ndinoti kwavari chokwadi mandiitavo kuti ndive mumwe wenyu.

"I want to express my very deep and most sincere gratitude for the message that she has relayed through her well composed songs. Four of them one after another all carrying that spiritual message that it is he our creator who is responsible for the fact that I am 89," President Mugabe said.

Mai Suluma said she was honoured to be invited to perform at the special occasion.

Meanwhile, President Mugabe had earlier met Bishops of the Inter-Regional Meeting of Catholic Bishops of Southern Africa at State House.

The President briefed the bishops from Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Sao Tome and Principe, Swaziland and South Africa on political developments in Zimbabwe from the 2008 harmonised elections, formation of the inclusive Government and the Constitution-making process.

He told the bishops the political situation in Zimbabwe was calm guaranteeing the holding of peaceful elections this year.

Speaking through Archbishop Liborius Nashenda of Namibia, the bishops commended President Mugabe for taking a stand against political violence.

They said the church was ready to co-operate with other concerned citizens in stopping intimidation of voters.

The bishops noted that the illegal Western sanctions were harmful to Zimbabwe and must be removed.

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