Former President Robert Mugabe said he stayed in power for so long because he always listened to the people.
With most of his lieutenants gone, he also wanted to keep the party intact.
In an interview with the Independent, when asked: Why did you prefer to stay long in power?
He responded: “I always listened to the people. The people still wanted me. And one other thing is I also looked at my circumstances. Nkomo is no more, Muzenda, Msika, they are all gone. If I go, who would keep the party intact?”
The interview must have been quite difficult for the Independent as sometimes Mugabe wondered off not answering the question he had been asked.
For example, when asked: “What role have you played in the formation of the National Patriotic Front, the new opposition party led by Retired Brigadier-General Ambrose Mutinhiri? Are you a member? Is the former first lady a member?”
He responded: “I’ve had quite a number of groups coming here (Blue Roof) and seeking my views. I had Mai (Joice) Mujuru earlier on introduced by Father (Fidelis) Mukonori. She came to discuss the past and then she made reference to the fact that all that was happening against her during her time with us when she was vice-president was meant to create a place for Mnangagwa, and she knew that is was coming to this, now that he is at the top. I said to her, well, if you stand for that which is right, proper, legal and constitutional, go out, find some of our young men and young women who stand for it, enrol them, there is nothing wrong about it. When she left here, she was stoned in Glen Norah and Glen View. She sustained a bruised cheek after being hit with a stone. That’s very bad.”
Independent: At what point, during the coup, did you get to know as commander-in-chief that the military was in the streets and yet you had not deployed it?
Mugabe: I went for a graduation (ceremony) and the boys (intelligence) came and surrounded me and said we (the Central Intelligence Organisation) are being beaten up. I said ah all is well, I’ve gone to the university and I haven’t seen anything. All the cars had been removed from the road and it was absolutely quiet. That’s when the boys (CIO) told me, that everything was being taken away from them. And that they had been beaten up.
Independent: So the CIO were being intimidated even before the coup?
Mugabe: Yes, before. To clear the way.
Independent: On that Monday when General Chiwenga made a statement, what did you think about it? Did you take it as seriously as the public did?
Mugabe: I thought at least Chiwenga would have informed me that they (the military) were having such and such a problem.
Independent: So you thought Chiwenga would inform you?
Mugabe: Yes, to inform me what dissatisfaction they had. And at that point I said, well, we’re prepared to discuss.
Independent: You thought on that Monday Chiwenga would have discussed matters with you, and then on Tuesday you went to cabinet and tanks were already moving and the public was taking pictures and posting them on social media. Were you briefed by your security apparatus what exactly was happening at that point?
Mugabe: They said that the tanks are moving to another destination, to Manicaland somewhere.