With elections looming, Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa says he doesn‘t preach hatred against those who wronged him in a thinly-veiled attack on former first lady Grace Mugabe and her allies, the state-owned reported on Sunday.
Mnangagwa was addressing church-goers at a memorial service for his nephew who died in a car accident in March.
“Wherever I go, I preach the gospel of unity, I preach the gospel of love, I always exhort Zimbabweans to unite, to live in harmony and work for the development of our country, and this will surely guarantee me a ticket to Heaven,” Mnangagwa is reported to have said jokingly.
Mnangagwa has u last year after his predecessor Robert Mugabe was forced by parliament to step down in the wake of a brief military takeover.
In the run-up to Mugabe’s ouster Mnangagwa, 75, was often the target of bitter public verbal attacks by Mugabe’s wife Grace. She accused him of plotting to take power from her husband.
Mnangagwa made reference to those attacks in his memorial speech on Saturday in Zimbabwe’s southern Masvingo province.
“Have you ever heard me preaching the gospel of hate? Those who used to do that are there and you know them, those who were at the receiving end of endless attacks always stood for what is right.”
From border jumper to president
Mnangagwa is said to be an accomplished preacher, a trait he shares with his main political rival Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change.
The president also claimed he didn’t know he would eventually become president after he was sacked by Mugabe in November and fled the country into neighbouring Mozambique.
“The day I left the country as a border jumper I never knew I was going to come back and be the person I am today. I was preoccupied with thinking about how I was going to live in exile as a border jumper, but God plans in his own ways and what God plans, no person has the power to stop.”