HomeLocal NewsI won’t go — Mugabe

I won’t go — Mugabe

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ZANU PF leader President Robert Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, yesterday said he will not step down in response to calls from Britain and other countries for a change in government.

Mugabe, who is seeking re-election, told a Japanese news agency that he had given thought to quitting, but had decided against the idea.

“I’ve thought about retirement, but not when the British are saying we want regime change,” the 89-year-old president told Kyodo News in an interview in Yokohama, Japan. “I won’t be changed by the British. My people will change me.”

Mugabe, in Japan for the three-day Tokyo International Conference for African Development, said he would not heed calls from Britain to step down, as he had taught democracy to the British.

In recent days, the President has reiterated that he is not going to quit, but to slug it out in the next polls, later this year.

Britain, Zimbabwe’s former colonial ruler, along with other European countries and the United States have criticised Zimbabwe’s “dictatorship” and imposed sanctions against Mugabe.

But Mugabe said there was no democracy in Zimbabwe before independence and stressed,
“We brought democracy to the country”.

In a referendum held in March, the people of Zimbabwe approved a new Constitution which restricts a president to serving only two five-year terms.

As it is not applicable retroactively, Mugabe could be elected to serve another two terms, which would be his sixth and seventh terms, and remain in power until age 99.
In another documentary interview broadcast on SABC3 yesterday, Mugabe told host Dali Tambo that he was not about to quit, although he had reportedly passed significant responsibilities to his deputy Joice Mujuru.

“My people still need me,” he said. “And when people still need you to lead them, it’s not time, sir, it doesn’t matter how old you are, to say goodbye.”

Ironically, the veteran ruler’s opponents accuse him of using violence in the 2008 elections when his hold on power was threatened.

Ever the political schemer, Mugabe reportedly passed a different message to Guy Scott, the Zambian Vice-President.

Scott told the Guardian that he wanted to emulate Zambia and hand over power.
“I think if you asked him, he’d say it was enough. That’s what he said to us a few months ago,” Scott was quoted as having said. “I said the way forward in African democracy is the way we do it in Zambia. He (Mugabe) said: ‘I absolutely agree, I wish it would happen to me’.”

After 33 years in power, the former guerrilla leader is hoping to receive a fresh mandate to rule Zimbabwe for another five years.— Kyodo News/Staff Reporter

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