Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe yesterday accused potential successors of wishing him dead and told ruling Zanu-PF supporters to unite against foreign enemies he said wanted to destroy the nation.
Africa’s oldest leader at 92 years, Mugabe has held power since independence from Britain in 1980 and says his heir must be chosen democratically and that his wife will not automatically inherit the role.
Mugabe told a meeting of about 10000 veterans of Zimbabwe’s 1970s independence war that his frequent trips to Malaysia and Singapore had fed newspaper reports that he was ill and sometimes dying, stoking succession fights in Zanu-PF.
“You then see a stampede now, they will be saying the president is dying. I am not dying, shame on you,” Mugabe said during the first ever such meeting with the veterans.
“I am there at the mercy of the people. If the people say ‘No, go’, I go. But if the people say ‘No, we still want you’, I stay on,” said Mugabe at a sports centre in Harare.
Mugabe also revealed how he was made fun of by other heads of state at the African Union having been forced into a five-year government of national unity in 2008.
Mugabe said he ”persevered” until he became the chairman of the continental grouping last year.
”They would make fun of us at AU. They would tell me, the seat is not yours, [MDC leader Morgan] Tsvangirai should be sitting there, but I persevered,” Mugabe said.
At the meeting, Mugabe played the demagogue card, promising the war veterans more land.
“There are still white farmers that we can chase away,” he said, calling for the total nationalisation of state resources in a move led by the war veterans.
- Time SA