Mugabe not considering retirement

By Drum Digital
23 February 2014

Marking his 90th birthday, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe said he isn't ready to consider retirement.

"Why should it [retirement] be discussed when it is not due?" he said in an interview broadcast on state television.

"The leadership still exists that runs the country. In other words I am still there... When the day comes and I retire... I do not want to leave my party in tatters. I want to leave it intact."

Mugabe claimed he is "fit as a fiddle," but appeared frail in the prerecorded televised interview, at times stumbling over his words and slumping in his chair.

Mugabe's actual birthday was on Friday when he was in Singapore for a cataract operation on his left eye, according to the president's office. Mugabe returned from Singapore on Saturday and will celebrate his birthday at a sports stadium on Sunday.

Sunday's birthday celebrations, estimated to cost $1m, will be held in a 50 000-seat stadium in Marondera, 74km east of Harare, where organizers said potholed streets have been repaired for the event.

Critics say Mugabe won't discuss his retirement because he wants to die in office.

"The truth is we are faced with a very sick president who doesn't want to retire," analyst Ibbo Mandaza told The Associated Press.

Mugabe's 90th birthday comes amid intense speculation on Zimbabwe's future when his grip on power loosens.

Vying to replace him are Vice President Joice Mujuru and Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.

In July, Mugabe who has ruled the nation for 33 years since 1980, won disputed elections for another five-year term that will take him to age 94.

- AP

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