Zimbabwe’s President, Robert Mugabe, says his successor must be chosen democratically and that his wife would not automatically inherit the role.
He said on Monday in Harare that this was a serious warning to feuding members of the ZANU-PF party and that he was still in charge after 36 years in power.
“Why successor, I am still there. Why do you want a successor, I did not say I am a candidate to retire. Leaders were elected not appointed.
“In a democratic party, you don’t want leaders appointed that way to lead the party. They have to be appointed properly by the people, at a gathering of the people, at a congress,” he said.
Mugabe said he was not behind his wife Grace’s quick rise within ZANU-PF, which has led to reports that she has plans to succeed her husband.
“Others say the president wants to leave the throne for his wife. Where have you ever seen that, even in our own culture, where a wife inherits from her husband?
The former liberation fighter was chosen in 2014 to lead his party for another five years, automatically becoming the ZANU-PF presidential candidate for Zimbabwe’s 2018 presidential vote.
He will be 99 if he wins and completes that term, his last under a new constitution.
Mugabe said he wanted to live to 100, and that he was fit and still did daily morning exercises.
“I am happy because I am about to reach the age I want. You know the age I want to reach – 100 years. So only eight years remaining.
Zimbabweans follow his health with keen interest and some fear the government could be paralysed and the country raven by instability, if he dies without resolving the succession issue.
Fighting over leadership of a post-Mugabe ZANU-PF, has intensified since late 2014, when Mugabe accused his deputy, Joice Mujuru, of plotting to oust him and fired her.
Mujuru is expected to launch a new political party this week.
Mugabe said Mujuru’s party was doomed to fail and that ZANU-PF was still intact.