President Mnangagwa, who turned 79-years yesterday, called on Zimbabweans to be peaceful, united and most of all, be patriotic to develop the country.
Speaking at his African-themed birthday dinner hosted by First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa at State House last night, the President gave an insight into his private life, saying he is treated by his wife of 38 years to traditional cuisine at home.
On a mild September night, the dinner was graced by his governing Zanu PF party deputies — Vice President Chiwenga and Vice President Mohadi, Cabinet ministers and service chiefs as well as men of the cloth.
“I met my wife Auxillia 38 years ago and up to date, we are still together. At our home you won’t find cutlery at the table, we eat using our hands. My mother who gave birth to me is the one who taught my wife to stick to traditional cuisine.
“Traditional food is healthy and we learned that from my mother. Tiri vemufushwa nemukaka. When you hear that the President is into agriculture, it is because of our backgrounds,” he said.
The President also spoke about the economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West, saying the illegal embargoes are designed to paralyse the country. He said despite the sanctions, Zimbabwe will achieve its goals to become an upper middle class economy by 2030 because he has under him a team of dedicated lieutenants.
“I am glad that I have a team that is united in building the nation brick by brick. We should teach our children to be patriotic. If we are united and peaceful then we will leapfrog the country’s development.”
Responding to Vice President Chiwenga’s question on how he felt at 79, the President said he felt no different from what he felt the day before.
“I don’t feel any different at 79. Of course, we have walked a long journey and that makes you realise that one day you will have to rest. The most important thing though is to love your country, your countrymen and women,” he said.
In her welcome remarks, the First Lady described the President as a loving husband.
“Your Excellency, allow me to congratulate you (by) saying happy birthday to the man I fell in love with so many years ago. I shall love you more and more as the years pass by. Happy birthday my best friend. We have an amazing life together,” the First Lady said.
The President’s daughter, Mrs Farai Mlotshwa described the President as a loving father who is committed to empowering the girl child.
“Thank you for being the best dad, especially for the daughters, you always supported what we did career-wise. You put your mouth where your money is in supporting women,” said Mrs Mlotshwa.
The President’s son, Emmerson Jnr, called on Zimbabweans to be patriotic, saying the sacrifices that were made by the country’s liberators should forever be celebrated.
“My father is a man who has survived the toughest conditions humanly possible — death row, imprisonment, poison, numerous assassination attempts — I could go on.
“As a result of his determination and unconditional love for his country and family, today our lives have been made easier.
“The small things we took for granted, dreams we dismissed as being unattainable, the notion of becoming whatever you desire, simple things like voting and acquiring decent education, freedom, and equal rights . . . the possibility for us young people to determine our destiny is achievable.
“These are things dad never had but look at him now, a boy from Mberengwa now the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe. That’s the stuff that dreams are made of and that’s the stuff Mnangagwas are made off.
“I challenge you all to remain strong and resilient like my dad here. (We) must not only dare to dream but dare to believe,” said Emmerson Jnr.
Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi spoke glowingly about the difficult road that the President walked over the years, including surviving assassination plots, but never wavered in his dedication to the motherland.