Zimbabwe's opposition parties have scoffed at remarks by President Robert Mugabe that Zimbabweans will be angry should he be asked to stand down as the president.
Mr. Mugabe, who is on a five-day state visit to Japan, told the east Asian country’s media that if he is healthy he will contest the 2018 presidential election though he will be 94.
"You just go to Zimbabwe now and ask the people whether I should stand down. They will be angry with you." President Mugabe said.
President Mugabe, whose country is subject to sanctions by the United States and European countries over alleged human rights abuses, is visiting Japan for the fourth time as president and holding his third meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
In talking about his ideal successor, President Mugabe said that the person must be a good leader all the time and should be people-oriented.
People’s Democratic Party deputy spokesman, George Mkwananzi, said Mr. Mugabe must step down as no-one even in his ruling Zanu-PF wants him to continue at the helm.
Zanu-PF chairman for the UK province, Nick Mangwana, said Mr. Mugabe is right. "I think he is stating the obvious there, pretty much because he was given an over 63% mandate by the people of Zimbabwe ... that mandate was five years and he has done only three years of those."
Mangwana said any push to try and force Mr. Mugabe out is tantamount to a coup.
Reacting, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) spokesman, Obert Gutu, said Mr. Mugabe must step down as he is now a liability to the nation.
"It would appear President Robert Mugabe doesn't seem to appreciate that the majority of Zimbabweans have had enough of his misrule and misgovernance. If anything President Mugabe has overstayed his welcome as the head of state.”
Gutu added, "Certainly he needs to take a rest, that is the position of the majority of Zimbabweans out there and including fortunately the majority of Zanu-PF party members."
Gutu further said that only a few hardline Zanu-PF sycophants might want Mr. Mugabe to stay but he said the president is "well past his sell by date" and is "no longer fit for purpose." The MDC-T spokesman accused Mr. Mugabe of allegedly using rigging to win elections.
Dr. Pedzisayi Ruhanya, director of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, said Zimbabweans will actually celebrate if Mr. Mugabe steps down.
"Those close to him who are benefiting from his misrule surely they will cry but if you take a Zimbabwean who lives in Tsholotsho (Matabeleland North province) who lost a relative during Gukurahundi, who is now losing relatives again due to hunger …Who send their children to school and universities but they can’t find jobs. Surely these people will say please Mr. President may you stay in Japan."