ZIMBABWE’S president Robert Mugabe has claimed he has a “divine task” to lead the country.
The 89-year-old Zanu-PF leader dismissed concerns about his health and ability to perform his job as Zimbabwe – beset by a decade-long economic recession – prepares for elections this year.
Addressing staff at a party on the eve of his birthday yesterday, broadcast on state TV, he said: “Why is it that all my friends are gone and my relatives are gone and I continue to linger on? Then I say to myself, well, it’s not my choice, its God’s choice.
“This is a task the Lord might have wanted me to fulfil among my people…,” he said. “I read it as a bidding of God… The bidding says you move forward ever.”
Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party has endorsed his candidacy for the presidential elections, which he and his arch-rival Morgan Tsvangirai, of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, have agreed to hold some time around July. Mr Tsvangirai is currently prime minister under a power-sharing agreement between the MDC and Zanu-PF.
“I hear a lot of people talking about a tight race, but with his record I just don’t see how Mugabe can win a free and fair election,” said Charles Simukai, 28, who was selling fruit on the streets of the capital Harare.
Mr Tsvangirai claimed Zanu-PF rigged and robbed him of victory in three major violence-marred polls since 2000.