Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
President Mugabe says he is still very much around and any discussion about his succession is misplaced because he was given a mandate by the people of Zimbabwe that runs until 2018.
He said he could not have accepted the mandate if he knew he would not be able to complete the term.
The President also dismissed reports doing the rounds in the private media that he wanted First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe to succeed him, adding that leaders in zanu-pf were appointed through a congress.
He said this during a wide-ranging birthday interview with the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation that was aired last night.
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“Why successor, I am still there! Why do you want a successor? Unoda kuti ndikurove chibhakera ugowira pasi to feel I am still there. Ndozvazvinoitwa here? Izvozvo ndozvinomutsa tsekwende dzana Mai (Joice) Mujuru dzatiri kuona idzi. Vanhu vave kutsvagirana mishonga, vave kuenderana kun’anga. Dzimwe nguva kuurayana.
“When we went to Congress in 2013 and the people said you are the candidate in 2013, I did not say I was a candidate to retire, only to retire midway. I never said that. I was a candidate for the term, for the term, the term is a five-year term. Isn’t it?
“Otherwise, why did I accept ndichiziva kuti ndinogumhinha kana kuti ndichiziva kuti ndine chirwere, kana handikwanisi? But can you say handikwanise?
“Ndaive nedzimba ngani? Nhatu at 91. Zimbabwe, Sadc, AU. Vakadzi vatatu at 91 ungavakwanise iwe?”
President Mugabe said zanu-pf’s discussion about succession was 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: “Kuti hanzi uyu akazosiyiwa ari panzvimbo inhaka here? Hatigadze nhaka isusu. It’s ridiculous and for that matter vamwe vanoti President anoda kuzoti mudzimai wake asare ari ipapo.
“Ndekupi kwawakambomuona kana musystem yedu achinzi mukadzi wangu unozogara nhaka yangu? Kune vekwaGushungo hazviitwe izvozvo. Kwenyu zvinoitika? Vakuru vanozosara voona kuti ndiyani vane kodzero yekugara nhaka.
“Vanombotanga vaona kuti uyu anosara akabata pamusha sarapavana. Vozogadza nhaka. In a democratic party you don’t want leaders appointed that way to lead the party. Saka vaye vanoti pinda iwe ndogozopindawo kuzvinyepera. It doesn’t matter who. They have to be appointed properly by the people, properly by the people kugathering yeCongress. Usina kuitwa appoint ikoko hapana. Successor yekuti appoint a successor hameno kuti yakabva kupi pfungwa idzodzo. It’s not part of our culture.”
Commenting on the infighting in zanu-pf, President Mugabe said the internal strife was peripheral.
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 of the party is very intact,” said President Mugabe.
“Some of the things are childish but we have said whatever their cause, wherever they are happening, they are affecting the party to some extent but not in any substantial way. But we would want to see the party avoiding that completely and remain dedicated and united.”
President Mugabe said the party did not like quarrels adding that the rural areas where majority of people resided were quiet.
He said the private media was 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.
President Mugabe refuted claims that he was guiding Amai Mugabe who is the Zanu-PF secretary for Women’s Affairs in her political career.
He said the First Lady was independent and the decision was entirely hers.
President Mugabe said even some of his family members were in politics by their own choice.
He said he told them that politics was not an easy go and they should not blame anyone for whatever they met in their political journeys.
He said he gave the same advice to the First Lady.
“I said so to Grace. I said fine, yes, I will support you but coming into politics the decision is entirely yours. You are free and so there she is. Ideas are entirely her own. That is where we have individual ideas – the area where we are allowed in the party to have individual ideas.
“But of course salient ideas, policy related ideas have to be the same and so that is the area where are the same. She leads the women.
“These are ideas from the women and not from me. The women have their own ideas, their own cries, zvichemo zvavo. Ndokwazvinobva ikoko. And of course from the family point of view she will express herself.”
President Mugabe said the First Lady recently expressed her dissatisfaction when the First Family’s dairy Alpha Omega was almost bombed but she was grateful that it was prevented by the authorities.
Turning to the issue of war veterans, President Mugabe said the freedom fighters were part and parcel of Zanu-PF.
Said the President: “The war veterans are part of the party. The war veterans are within the party. I am a war veteran myself. You mean the welfare of war veterans yes, we have been worried about their welfare. The welfare of some of them who are not employed, some have grown old.
“The party being just the sponsor of Government has been urging the Government to pay the fees, whether these are school fees or health fees and look at the families of the war veterans and this has not been going well in Government and we are sorry about this one.
“I was just talking to (Cde Chris) Mutsvangwa who is Minister telling him that I will talk to Cde (Sydney) Sekeramayi tomorrow so that we have a meeting with the war veterans perhaps next week properly called. We don’t want them to just come in this irregular manner, kungozvisunda kunge zvavakaita musi uya. We know they are orderly people. They are well disciplined. We want to hear how they are coping and what their problems are.”
On regional and continental politics, President Mugabe said the current crop of leaders had potential to lead but they lacked ideology.