Tendai Mugabe Harare Bureau
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe says he is still very much around and any discussion about succession is misplaced as he was given a mandate by the people of Zimbabwe that runs until 2018.
He would not have accepted the mandate, he said, if he knew he would not be able to complete the five-year term.
The President also rejected speculation that he wanted First Lady Cde Grace Mugabe to succeed him, saying leaders in Zanu-PF were appointed through a congress.
The President said this during a wide-ranging, belated birthday interview with the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation that was aired last night.
He told interviewer Tazzen Mandizvidza: “What successor? I’m still there! Why do you want a successor? You want me to floor you with a punch so that you feel that I’m still there? Is that what you want? Those are the things that cause problems, like you saw with Mai (Joice) Mujuru. You’ve people seeking lucky charms and visiting traditional healers, sometimes killing each other.
“When we went to Congress in 2013, the people said you’re the candidate in 2018. I didn’t say I was a candidate to retire, only to retire midway. I never said that. I was a candidate for the term — the term is a five-year term. Isn’t it?
“Otherwise why did I accept knowing that I was not fit, knowing that I was sick or I can’t manage? Can you say I’m unable [to do my work?]?
“How many houses did I just have? Three at 91 — Zimbabwe, Sadc [chairman] and AU [chairman]. Can you manage three wives at 91 yourself?”
President Mugabe said discussions about succession in Zanu-PF were alien to Zimbabwe.
He said those who were making clandestine manoeuvres thinking that they would succeed him outside congress were fooling themselves.
Said the President: “You want to say this one was left in charge, is this inheritance? We don’t do that in the party. It’s ridiculous. Now others say the President wants his wife to succeed him. Where have you ever seen that, even in our system, that your wife becomes your heiress? In my Gushungo clan that doesn’t happen, does it happen in your family?
“In a democratic party you don’t want leaders appointed that way to lead the party. You’ve people whore fooling themselves, making pacts that you go in this time I’ll take over from you next. It doesn’t matter who. They have to be appointed properly by the people, properly by the people at congress. If you’re not elected at congress, just forget it.
“This thing of saying appoint a successor, I don’t know where such kind of thinking came from. It’s not part of our culture.”
Commenting on the infighting in Zanu-PF, President Mugabe said the internal strife was exaggerated. He said it was playing up mainly in the urban areas, but the grassroots structures were intact.
“Right at the grassroots and the middle system, the party is very intact,” said President Mugabe. “Some of the things are childish but we’ve said whatever their cause, wherever they’re happening, they’re affecting the party to some extent but not in any substantial way. But we would want to see the party avoiding completely and remain dedicated and better united.”
He said hostile newspapers were exploiting the small quarrels in the party and in some cases magnifying them in terms of their effects.
He added that Zanu-PF was not short of members and it would chuck out troublesome members.
In the same vein, the President dismissed the so-called grand coalition of opposition parties saying they were not a threat to Zanu-PF.