The 87-year old President Robert Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, Saturday said he will not retire until his Zanu PF party wins elections saying it would be “an act of cowardice” for him to step down.
He said this in the presence of about 5000 delegates at the end of a 4-day conference in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
In his words, “Luckily, God has given me this longer life than others to be with you and I will not let you down,” he said.
“I will continue to lead the party as I have done. At times, there comes a call to retire. I say, unless I have finished my job, I will not.
He added, “It would be completely wrong when the West … is working for regime change and we are still in this coalition government. It will be an act of cowardice. I am not a coward, no matter what kind of threats the West make. I am here and I was here.”
Mugabe noted that he wanted an election to be held next year to end the coalition government he formed in 2009 with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
“Let us now start preparing for elections and as we do that we are digging the grave of this monster,” he said.
Mugabe said the coalition had failed and opponents blamed the failure on his intransigence and pointed to his age as an obstacle.
Tsvangirai, the then-opposition leader defeated Mugabe in the first-round vote in 2008, but pulled out of a second round, saying he was “under threat” despite growing support from foreign monitors for the claim of victory by his party, Movement for Democratic Change, MDC. That resulted in regional leaders forcing the two former political foes to forge a power-sharing government.
Mugabe has reportedly been to Singapore 8 times this year alone while seeking medical treatment. It is widely speculated he is receiving serious treatment related to his battle with prostate cancer.
It is believed that Mugabe withdraws at least $3 million on each of his medical trips overseas, a figure critics say is too high given that the country is broke.