Wednesday, 2 August 2017

President Robert Mugabe Says He's Not Going Anywhere, and Not Dying Anytime Soon

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe said on Saturday he was not stepping down nor dying and that there was no one with his political stature who could immediately take over from him.

The 93-year-old leader has been in charge in the former British colony since independence in 1980. His health is closely watched by Zimbabweans, who fear the country could face chaos if he dies without anointing a successor.

Mugabe told tens of thousands of supporters at a rally in the town of Chinhoyi, in his home province, that doctors were recently surprised by his "strong bone system".

He has travelled to Singapore three times this year for what officials say is routine medical treatment.

"There is the issue that the president is going. I am not going," Mugabe told supporters on the grounds of a local university, 100 km west of Harare.
President Robert Mugabe Says He's Not Going Anywhere, and Not Dying Anytime Soon
"(They say) the president is dying. I am not dying. I will have an ailment here and there but bodywise, all my internal organs ... very firm, very strong," Mugabe said as he leant on the lectern. Mugabe, who looks frail, had walked onto the stage slowly but without assistance.

The issue of who will succeed Mugabe has deeply divided the ruling party, with two factions supporting Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Mugabe's wife Grace.

On Thursday, Grace challenged Mugabe to name his preferred successor, to end divisions over the future leadership of Zanu-PF.

She repeated the call on Saturday, adding that Mugabe would lead the process to choose his eventual successor.

Mugabe said although some party officials wanted to succeed him, he saw no one among his subordinates with his political clout to keep the party united and fend off a challenge from the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change. "A new man will not have the same stature and the same acceptance as I have managed to secure for the party over the years," said Mugabe.

On Friday, Mugabe had called on his supporters to "kick and punish" groups of people he accused of committing acts of political violence in the name of Zanu-PF.

Hi comments could fuel political violence in the Zanu-PF party as the nation gears up for elections in 2018, which Mugabe has said he wishes to contest.

Opponents have repeatedly accused Zanu-PF of using violence to win past elections and cling to power, charges the party denies.

Addressing a youth rally in Lupane, 450 km southwest of Harare, Mugabe, said Zanu-PF should confront groups of people pretending to be governing party members.

"You should not allow those small groups to spoil our name. Wherever you see them, come on, seize them and get them out of the road and give them good punishment," Mugabe said at the end of a speech broadcast on state television.

"You don't need to have to wait for the police ... they are doing harm, they are committing crime, come on, hold them and kick them. Give them the punishment they deserve and call the police afterwards," he added, amid cheers from the crowd.

Mugabe also urged the youth wing of his party to ensure that young voters were registered for elections as the ageing leader bids to extend his long rule by another five years. President Robert Mugabe Says He's Not Going Anywhere, and Not Dying Anytime Soon

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