The Sunday News
PRESIDENT Mugabe says he will not handpick his successor, pointing out that in any case, evidence on the ground indicated that the majority of Zimbabweans did not feel there was an acceptable candidate at present.
In a wide-ranging interview with the ZBC-TV ahead of his 93rd birthday, President Mugabe also spoke about his US counterpart Mr Donald Trump, saying while he was surprised that the Republican won last year’s elections, he had hoped Democrat rival Mrs Hillary Clinton would lose because of her leading role in getting Washington to put sanctions on Zimbabwe.
President Mugabe was born on 21 February 1924 and his 2017 official birthday celebrations will be held in Matobo, Matabeleland South on 25 February.
In his traditional birthday interview — which will be broadcast on ZBC-TV on Monday and Tuesday — President Mugabe brushed off calls by elements like South African opposition leader Mr Julius Malema for him to step down.
President Mugabe said: “Do you listen to anything from Malema? Who is Malema? The call to step down must come from my party; my party at Congress; my party at Central Committee. (In such circumstances) I will step down.
“But then what do you see? It’s the opposite. They want me to stand for elections, they want me to stand for elections everywhere in the party . . . Of course if I feel that I can’t do it anymore, I will say so to my party so that they relieve me. But for now I think I can’t say so . . .The majority of the people feel that there is no replacement; (a) successor who to them is acceptable, as acceptable as I am.
“But the people, you know, would want to judge everyone else on the basis of President Mugabe as the criteria. But I have been at it for a longer period than anyone else and leaders will have to be, as it were, given time to develop and to have the ability to meet with the people and to be judged by the people.
“Silently, in the majority of cases, the people must see and be convinced that yes, so and so can be the successor. Others think, yaaa, yaaa, that they are this in the party, they are capable of succeeding the President. It’s not that easy.”
The President was asked if he was grooming a successor and he responded: “A successor is groomed by the people. Those around you can get the confidence of the people as they operate around you, and gain the confidence of the people, you see.
“When the people see that they trust their leaders, (that they are) beyond corruption, (that) their leaders (are) knowledgable, sure that’s grooming,” said the Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
President Mugabe also said Zanu-PF was always primed to win at the polls.
“Zanu-PF is ever-ready for elections; but we need to ensure unity, (that) we don’t have differences that can mar our participation in elections. We have been in this game for a long time. We are not vanaZimFirst. They are born in the morning, before sunset, it has become something else. Hameno ivo Mbuya Mujuru . . . Ari kuti ngavaende, vaiti ndirare navo. Hameno kuti ichokwadi here . . . There is no opposition at all,” said the President.
He said he was not losing sleep over the talk of a grand coalition as it amounted to an amalgamation of weaknesses.
“(Laughing) Grand coalition? My teacher ndichiri muGrade One aiti ukaisa mazero maviri haaite two, rinongoramba riri zero.
Kana ukaawanza kusvika gumi it just amounts to a huge pile of zeros, nothing, you see. Hatityi. Inembenge yaitwa here iyo coalition?
“If they want a coalition, if they believe that a coalition can save them so why the dilly-dallying about it? But now Mai Mujuru apparently divorced, left in that situation which appears to be without anyone who matters, politically, Tsvangirai will say ahh, you are now only an individual. Ini ndine party kaini. And yes, he has a party. My party cannot have a coalition with an individual. Iwe kana uchida unojoina wouya pasi pangu.
“I don’t know; she might have to do that perhaps to save her political skin. But that will be the final blow to her political life . . . I suppose that’s why others left her kuti ahh, wava kutiisa mupolitics dzana Tsvangirai. Tigorarama here neZanu-PF? Inobva yawana mbuva to criticise during election time. But they are not even worth criticising now,” said the President.
Turning to “prophets” who prophesy his death, President Mugabe said: “So-called prophets, why don’t you say prophets of doom? They are prophets of doom who prophesy what really are their wishes. They turn their wishes into prophesies, or dreams perhaps, but hardly any (prophecies).
“I would want to think they are just wishes that this man must go. This man must go and so year in and year out it’s the same wish. And so they say prophesy. Why do you care about them? I don’t care about them anymore? We had even some pastors praying for my death and even a bishop in my church, wekuMatabeleland uya watakazo bata aine mudzimai, akazviregera.
“So you get these things in society … Ndakanzwa chimwe chichiti President ari kufa in October asi kana asingade kufa ngaataure (laughing). So there it is. I don’t pay them much attention,” said President Mugabe.
Turning to Mr Trump, President Mugabe said the world should wait and see how his policies unfolded.
“I was surprised by his election, but I didn’t like Madam Clinton to win either. You see, I knew she could slap sanctions on us as a legacy. Indeed (former US president Barrack) Obama did that just before he left. Why did he have to do it?… Why didn’t he leave it to the incoming incumbent to make his own decision? We are just now under sanctions imposed not by Donald Trump, but by Obama. What arrogance is that?
“But anyway, when it comes to Donald Trump, on the one hand talking of American nationalism, well America for America, America for Americans — on that we agree. Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans. But he is radical. I don’t know whether the construction of the wall between America and Mexico is feasible; a feasible proposition. It appears quite nasty. I don’t know how the Mexicans will take it. I thought the Americans once loved Mexico.
“I don’t know. Give him time. He might come up with better policies,” said the President; adding that Mr Trump might even re-look the sanctions on Zimbabwe.
In the interview, Zimbabwe’s Head of State and Government also spoke about corruption in high places, the reforms to the education sector, the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe’s entry; and Zimbabwe’s performance at the recent Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament in Gabon, among other issues.
The full interview will be broadcast on ZBC-TV on February 20 and 21, 2017.