Felex Share in TOKYO, Japan
President Mugabe yesterday said anyone unhappy with his constitutional stay in power should condemn the people of Zimbabwe as they are the ones who gave him the mandate to govern the country since 1980, adding that his successor should be people-oriented and someone ready to defend the country from latter-day neo-colonialism being propelled by the West.
Speaking in a wide-ranging interview with Japanese journalists here yesterday, President Mugabe said health permitting, he would stand as the Zanu-PF presidential candidate in 2018 if the people decided so.
“He (successor) must be a good leader all the time, a leader who is people oriented,” said President Mugabe, “a leader who listens to the voices of the people, who takes care of the people, who thinks of the people before he thinks of himself. He should be a leader who is really directed and governed by the wishes of the people. This is what I have tried to be. This is what our Government has tried to be.”
President Mugabe added: “When we waged the struggle it was a people struggle for the freedom of our people and that should remain the objective of the leaders in the future. (He needs) to be people oriented to push that the people remain as free as possible and defend and protect them against any outsider.”
To lead the country for the past 36 years, President Mugabe said, was because of Zimbabweans who successively elected him to drive their empowerment agenda.
President Mugabe said anyone with a problem with the decision of the majority was free to criticise them “if they don’t like my long stay in power they should criticise my people, I do not vote for myself into power,” he said.
“You just go to Zimbabwe now and ask the people whether I should stand down. They will be angry with you.”
Asked if he was fit for the Presidency at the moment and in 2018, President Mugabe said: “At the moment I am the President that’s why (I am here). Do you see me as not fit? Why not contest two years later?
“Two years later is no time but only God knows what will happen in two years’ time, 2018, I don’t know, it will depend. If I am fit enough, yes, but If I am not fit enough I will not. My people will want me to be a candidate and they have already nominated me as a candidate for 2018.”
President Mugabe said Zimbabwe abounded with ivory and Government would ensure it benefits everyone.
“We have got elephants and they carry ivory and I want that ivory to benefit Zimbabwe. So I will comply with the rules set for us to trade in ivory,” he said.
He said the forthcoming sixth edition of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) IV to be held in Kenya in August should unite Africa and Japan as they pushed for their development.
“With TICAD, you don’t just get socio-economic friends, you build also social business as indeed you build allies in development, in humanitarian endeavour and the creation of the world of peace and harmony. If we can begin with Africa as a peaceful continent that will be a stepping stone to possible world peace in the future although world peace, as we see now, will take us a long time to establish with so much terrorism taking place especially on the European continent.”
He said the strained relationship between China and Japan would not affect Zimbabwe’s relationship with the two countries.
“We are friends of China,” he said. “During the liberation struggle they supported us and we owe them that support but that does not mean our friendship with China excludes friendship with Japan. No! I know you are not good friends because of the past history of fighting but that is your row. As far as we are concerned we want to be a good friend with you as far as we are with everyone else.”
Asked on relations with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, President Mugabe said: “We have lost connection with North Korea. If North Korea would want to re-establish connections, I suppose we reciprocate. We do not hate any country or distaste any people. We make friends with those who want to be friends with us but it doesn’t mean that we should follow all their ways. Friendship is friendship on terms that are reciprocal.”
Asked about his perception of Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for the United States elections this year, President Mugabe said many thought he would be the joke of the year but he was pulling surprises.
Some of his utterances though, the President said, were a “bit off guard”.
“I notice he is winning in some cases,” he said. “He had a difficult time in Chicago but elsewhere he should guard his speeches more but I am not the one to teach Americans how to behave.”