The 93-year-old leader of Zimbabwe has again insisted that he is not leaving office, amid concerns about recent medical care and a swirl of political posturing and his wife’s public call to name his successor.
“Well, there is the issue to say, ‘Ah, the president is going’; I am not going, ‘the president is dying’; I am not dying and I thank God for having lived to this day,” Mugabe said, elaborating on the state of his health and the fact that he sees doctors like anyone else and hopes to stay well.
“But in so doing I will be aware that, yes, there could be some who are impatient to become presidents now, I will never accept that.”
Mugabe’s clear declaration that he will not step down follows a week in which the president’s wife, Grace, publicly urged Mugabe to name his successor now and end the speculation and political infighting within the Zanu PF.
Although Zimbabwe’s First Lady has risen to party leadership in her own right, Mugabe said last year that she would never automatically succeed him but at other times has suggested she would serve well as president. During an interview televised in February as part of his birthday celebrations, Mugabe endorsed his wife’s political skills and agreed with Zanu PF’s history of being open to leaders’ wives seeking political office themselves.
Grace Mugabe’s remarks have caused concern as they appeared to some observers to disregard a democratic electoral process, and assume that it is Mugabe’s right to decide who will step up when his tenure is over.
In the meantime, he has said – again – that it won’t be.
Image: Zanu PF/YouTube file