PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has told those who seek to succeed him to at least wait until he completes his current term of office, according to Xinhua news agency.
The Chinese state news agency said Mugabe said this in a traditional birthday interview with the ZBC, to be televised Thursday night putting to rest speculation that advanced age may force him to step down before 2018.
Mugabe reportedly said those seeking to take over from him should wait until Zanu PF’s next elective congress due in 2019.
“Some are talking of a successor. Why? I am still there. I did not go into the presidential election for someone to complete my five-year term, which ends in 2018,” Xinhua quoted Mugabe as saying.
The veteran leader dismissed as “wild exaggerations” claims that his wife Grace was positioning herself for a takeover, according to the report.
“Even in the African culture, leaders left behind chose the successor. A leader is elected properly by the congress, it is only the congress that chooses the next leader,” Mugabe told the ZBC.
According to Xinhua, Mugabe said Zimbabwe deserves a leader who is “ideologically clear and untainted by corruption and scandals”.
The 92-year old also rubbished the idea of a grand coalition of opposition parties, saying “you cannot come together just for the sake of regime change, if that is what they are up to, they are lost”.
Mugabe has been in power since 1980 and has never shown any signs he was willing to step down.
But as he is now aged, Zanu PF has been divided into a number of factions with party stalwarts positioning themselves to take over or influence the succession race. So bitter are the squabbles that Mugabe was recently forced to take to the national Television to order his followers to “shut up”.
Internal squabbles have grown intense since 2014 when Mugabe fired his deputy of 10 years, Joice Mujuru, claiming his die hard loyalist was plotting a coup.
Mujuru hs since launched her Zimbabwe People First party to challenge her former boss, whom she used to call “father”.
Last weekend, Mugabe celebrated his 92nd birthday during which he ordered party youths to stop abusing Grace.