‘Shame on you, I’m not dying’ says Mugabe


Zimbabwe’s long-serving president Robert Mugabe, aged 92, rubbished claims that he was close to death. Speaking to a group of Zimbabwean veterans, the nonagenarian president sternly snapped the immortal words “I am not dying,” adding “shame on you!”

Mugabe had appeared at a gathering of army veterans, which saw 10,000 who had fought in the country’s War of Independence in the 1970’s assemble in a sports centre in the capital Haraare to hear him speak.

Robert Mugabe has held power since 1980, under the party ZANU-PF, and the unflinching loyalty of the armed forces has been instrumental in shoring up his rule. However, recently plans to replace the aging president have come to light.

Denouncing plotting generals as part of a “stampede”, Mugabe emphasised that  he had no intentions of going anywhere. “I am there at the mercy of the people,” Mugabe claimed, “if the people say no, go, I will go. But if the people say no, we still want you, I stay on.”

Mugabe’s claims to be ruling ‘at the mercy of the people’ may be seen as a dubious statement by some. The leader’s almost 40-year rule has been characterised by mysterious disappearances and harsh repression. Freedom House gives Zimbabwe a 2015 ranking of ‘Not Free’, with only a 6 for civil liberties, where 7 indicates ‘Worst’. Political rights were assessed to be a 5.

The last election was held in Zimbabwe in July 2013, in which Mugabe at the helm of ZANU-PF won 61.09% of the vote. Accusations of election fraud were rife, with the most shocking claiming being that a third of registered voters were dead or apparently aged 120. The life expectancy of Zimbabwe is significantly lower at 44. The world’s oldest living person is also younger, at 112.

Dissent within the ranks has spread as rumours of Mugabe’s death and likely successor have been circulating. It is claimed that the president would like to install Grace Mugabe, his 50 year old wife, as president following his demise. Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is seen as a second choice.

In the eyes of the generals, neither of these are acceptable. The generals are jostling for power in a post-Mugabe world, one which he assures them is far from close.

Last month, it was reported that the veterans sought to oust Mugabe. Instead, they presented him with significant demands, seeking high-profile positions in a number of state-run industries, government, and diplomatic posts.

It may be in Mugabe’s interest to placate them for now. But as his age continues to climb, the battle for Zimbabwean succession will only intensify.


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