President Robert Mugabe says he has no power to choose a successor amid calls for him to step down due to his advanced age.
Addressing hundreds of people at Matopo Junior School, formerly known as Rhodes Estate Preparatory School, in Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland South province to mark his 93rd birthday celebrations, Mr. Mugabe said the Zanu PF constitution does not allow him to choose the next leader of the ruling party.
In the address broadcast live by the state-controlled Herald newspaper on its Facebook page, the president said individuals who want Zanu PF’s top-most position should be elected by the people.
“The party has a constitution that provides how people get elected from one position to another. So why, why, want to try to circumvent the constitution? You can’t dribble your way in the constitution. You can’t do that to get a position. There is no party that operates like that. Whatever position you are elected you should get properly elected.
"That some people just want to create chairpersons or groups that support them, they will die without succeeding to do so in Zanu PF. People whether they are to be elected chairpersons or any other persons of provinces, districts or whatever, have to be elected by the people …”
Mr. Mugabe, who has been in power since Zimbabwe attained independence from British rule in 1980, said some Zanu PF activists are forming rival groups to fight for his succession.
“… Some are forming groups here and there … Some saying Mugabe must go (audience … Where?). That’s what I am asking too. No. (Audience … They have to go themselves). When Zanu says step down, I will step down and by the way I will never and have never canvassed for positions … from secretary general (up to the presidium). I have risen through the ranks to be made president. I have never been dragging my feet in such a position.
“This (succession) is not a matter of organizing a beer drink to say come and drink at my place. No. Never. That will not succeed. People, let them judge you as fit for this post or that post. That is what our constitution stipulates. We won’t change this. Some say aah, the president is about to retire and so I should choose a successor. How do I do that. I will not do that. The constitution says I can nominate deputies like Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko. The president can’t do that (choose a successor). I don’t have power to do that.”
Some rival camps allegedly led by Mr. Mugabe's wife, Grace, and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa have been fighting over his succession.
Mrs. Mugabe of the so-called Generation 40 Zanu PF faction, recently said the president is not going anywhere and may be fielded in polls even if he dies and people will vote in their millions for him.
She has over the years denied that she wants to succeed her husband. On the other hand, Mnangagwa, who allegedly leads a group calling itself Team Lacoste, has distanced himself from reports that he wants to succeed President Mugabe.
He appeared in a picture holding a mug inscribed 'I Am The Boss' when the president was on leave in the Far East.