In a thinly veiled signal that he would seek to run for office at the next election, the 86-year old Mugabe told international news agency Reuters in an interview last week that he was still fit enough to fend off Western sanctions imposed on him and his top allies and to knockout political opponents.
The octogenarian Mugabe has been in power since Zimbabwes independence from Britain in 1980 and critics say he has clung to power through vote rigging and violence against opponents.
“My time will come, but for now, ‘no’. I am still fit enough to fight the sanctions and knock out (my opponents),” Mugabe said in the interview.
The Zimbabwean leader blames former United States President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, his staunchest critics, for slapping a financial freeze and travel embargo on members of his Zanu (PF) party.
Zimbabwe is due to hold its next elections after a referendum on a new constitution, which is expected next year.
Although Mugabe and his rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have indicated that elections will be held next year, analysts say the next vote will likely come in 2012, when Mugabe will be 88 years.
Analysts say Zanu (PF) is too fractured to agree on Mugabes successor, which would leave him to represent the former liberation movement at the presidential polls unopposed.
Zimbabweans need to look seriously and prepare themselves on the prospect of Mugabe becoming life president and its clear from his latest remarks that he is not about to give up, Eldred Masunungure, a leading political analyst said.
His thinking maybe that as a founding leader and given his age, he may as well go with it until he dies. After all this is what happened to his contemporaries (late vice presidents) Joshua Nkomo and (Simon) Muzenda.
Mugabe appeared defiant in the interview and mocked Bush and former British leader Blair who said in his new book that he had considered invading Zimbabwe saying he had outlasted them and that he was not worried about their successors.
“It is Bush who is out, Blair out, and the others are persons of no consequence any more. They are inheritors of a situation,” he said in an interview in which he called for improved relations between Zimbabwe and Western powers.
Mugabe dismissed rumours that he was unwell and that he could have suffered a stroke recently after some pictures emerged of him being helped down some stairs by aides during a trip to China.
There have also been reports that the veteran leader was battling with cancer.
Mugabe expressed surprise to the speculation over his health, saying this had become a perennial issue and he hardly paid any serious attention to it.
Although there have been reports over the last 10 years on Mugabe’s health, he has no publicly known serious ailment.
“I don’t know how many times I die but nobody has ever talked about my resurrection,” he said at the end of an hour-long interview.
Mugabe did not say whether he planned to stand in the next presidential ballot after his disputed re-election in 2008.
But the suggestion that he has the energy to stay on in the political boxing ring and comments during an earlier press briefing last March in which he said he was ready to run in the next presidential election should his Zanu (PF) party ask him to do so all point to him standing for re-election.Post published in: Opinions