Responding to a question about his retirement plans Mugabe who recently turned 86 said: “Oh – my retirement plans? I am still there (in office) for many more days, to work. What did you think?”
When it was put to him that his personal presence as leader of the country was viewed negatively by Western countries which have indicated they would not remove sanctions or restore good relations with Zimbabwe for as long as he was in office, Mugabe asked what Zimbabweans and the media houses thought about that.
“They are saying they will remove sanctions and bring assistance to Zimbabwe if I retire? What do you think? What does your media house say about that?” he asked.
Asked if he was considering seeking re-election in the next election Mugabe said that would all depend on his party Zanu PF. If the party still wanted him to represent them he would gladly do so but if they wanted him to rest “then I will go.”
Mugabe said whatever outcome of the constitutional making process would lead to elections.
“If the constitution is a success, then the logical next step would be an election and if it is unsuccessful still the result is an election. The life of this inclusive government is ideally two years but when we get there and we are not ready then the three parties will sit down to chart the way forward,” Mugabe said.
He admitted that he was not the best man to lead the to fight against sanctions adding that his relationship with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was improving by the day.
Mugabe said the fragile coalition government had a plan to set up a committee to deal with the issue of sanctions but he said several European countries had already refused to entertain the committee’s presentation because there were Zanu PF people in that committee.
“If I had my way I could do everything to get the sanctions removed but I have to accept the fact that the Prime Minister is listened to more than myself. So we will sit together to find a way forward soon. If I were to lead a team of people seeking to have the West remove the sanctions we would not succeed. In fact the result would be that we would be given more sanctions,” quipped Mugabe.
He told the editors that he had no financial interests in either Europe or America. If there was anything, it would be “just a little money that he had in accounts which had already been frozen anywhere”.
“Even my officials and colleagues that have been put on sanctions are not complaining about having lost anything. I have not seen any of them coming to complain that they had lost any assets due to the sanctions,” Mugabe said.
Mugabe implored the media to stop hate speech but instead, promote and support the inclusive government. He asked the state media to stop vilifying Tsvangirai and his MDC party while the independent media “Is far too negative – seeking to highlight only the negative elements of the unity government”.
Mugabe, Tsvangirai and the leader of the smaller faction of MDC Arthur Mutambara has failed to implement full the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which brought about the inclusive government due to oustanding issues which include among others the appointment of the Attorney General to replace the current Johannes Tomana and the appointment of a new Reserve Bank Governor to replace Gideon Gono as well as the swearing in of the MDC deputy minister of Agriculture designate, Roy Bennett who is facing terrorism charges. The MDC and Bennett deny the charges.
The constitutional process has been marred by infighting and lack of funds resulting in delays. Farm invasions of the few remaining white commercial farms continue unabated while violence has erupted in some parts of the country particularly against members of Tsvangira’s MDC party as well as harrassment and intimidation of members of civic society and journalists.