I won’t go — Mugabe

President Robert Mugabe yesterday ruled out chances of stepping down, saying he would never give up at a time when the British were pushing for regime change.

By STAFF REPORTER

Mugabe (89), who is seeking re-election, told a Japanese news channel that he had given thought to quitting, but had decided against the idea.

“I have thought about retirement, but not when the British are saying we want regime change,” he said. “I will not 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 could 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, instead he is going to slug it out in the next polls, expected before July 31.

In an interview broadcast on SABC 3 last night, 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.

In a recent interview, 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 is 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.

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