Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe will allow the southern African country elect its next leader democratically, although that won’t be soon as Mugabe intends to live at least eight more years and spend all in power.
“Why successor? I am still there. Why do you want a successor? I did not say I was a candidate to retire,” Mugabe said in an interview with state broadcaster ZBC TV late on Thursday.
“In a democratic party, you don’t want leaders appointed that way to lead the party. They have to be appointed properly by the people, at a gathering of the people, at a congress.”
Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe for 36 years was chosen in 2014 to lead his party for another five years, which automatically makes him the ZANU-PF candidate for Zimbabwe’s 2018 presidential vote. His wife, Grace, who has risen very fast in the ruling party leading to fears the president may be paving way for the first lady to take over. Mugabe has dismissed this.
“Where have you ever seen that, even in our own culture, where a wife inherits from her husband?” the former liberation fighter said.
If he wins in 2018 and completes another five-year tenure — his last under a new constitution — he will be 99 and ready to retire. He told ZBC TV he wanted to live to 100.
“I am happy because I am about to reach the age I want. You know the age I want to reach – 100 years. So only eight years remain,” Mugabe said.
Critics have blamed Mugabe for Zimbabwe’s economic woes, stressing that some of his policies drove the once promising economy into an eight-year recession. Now in the twilight of his presidency, Mugabe hopes to put the economy back on track. His government has increased the threshold of foreign investors on the stock exchange from 40 percent to 49 percent. The government has also moved to curb illegal funds transfer and illegal mining, as well as access loans from international lenders to stabilize the economy.
Zimbabwe’s slow growth will continue in 2016, according to the World Bank. The forecast is 1.5 percent, lower than government projection.