ZANU PF has been caught flatfooted by Zambian Vice-President Guy Scott’s claims that President Mugabe wants to retire, with the party choosing to skirt the issue yesterday.
REPORT BY STAFF REPORTERS
Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba said the Zimbabwean leader and Scott were close and their relations could not be shaped by the media.
“We do not want to destroy our relations through the media,” he said. “We do not define our relations through what the media say. The British media cannot define our relations.”
This is in stark contrast to the way South Africa— who were at the receiving end of a tongue lashing from the Zambian vice president — has reacted.
South Africa reportedly summoned Zambia’s envoy to Pretoria to explain Scott’s comments.
Scott said South Africa was backward while drawing similarities between current President Jacob Zuma and former apartheid leader FW de Klerk.
Charamba on the other hand chose to sit on the fence, saying Mugabe was close to Scott and even closer to Zambian President Michael Sata, as they were all leaders of their respective liberation movements.
Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa said he was not aware of Scott’s comments, but Mugabe had not yet told the party of any intentions to retire.
“He may have said what he said, but he has not said that to us,” Mutasa told NewsDay.
Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said he could not comment on what Mugabe reportedly told Scott, before hanging up his mobile phone.
Scott recently told the British Guardian newspaper that Mugabe had confided in him that he wanted to retire.
Mugabe, Scott said, was keen to emulate the Zambian example and hand over power if he loses the next election.
The Zimbabwean president counts Sata as one of his closest allies and comments by Scott are likely to jolt relations between the two countries. There is speculation that Mugabe wanted to step down after he lost the first round of the 2008 presidential election to MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, but was prevented from doing so by securocrats.
The veteran ruler, who turned 89 this year, wants to stand for another term despite reports of failing health.