HomePoliticsI am still fit enough to fight sanctions –– Mugabe

I am still fit enough to fight sanctions –– Mugabe

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday dismissed rumours of ill-health, laughing off suggestions that he was dying of cancer and had recently suffered a stroke.

In an interview with Reuters at his official Zimbabwe House offices, Mugabe said he was surprised by speculation over his health, saying this had become a perennial issue and he hardly paid any serious attention to it.
“I don’t know how many times I die, but nobody has ever talked about my resurrection,” he said at the end of an hour-long interview.
“I suppose they don’t want to, because it would mean they would mention my resurrection several times and that would be quite divine, an achievement for an individual who is not divine.
“Jesus died once, and resurrected only once, and poor Mugabe several times,” he said, clapping his hands loudly, laughing and rocking in his chair.
He did not say whether he planned to stand in the next presidential ballot after his disputed re-election in 2008.
Without getting into details on whether he had any serious health problems, Mugabe –– who appeared fit and lively for his age –– said only God could decide issues of life and death.
Although there have been reports over the last 10 years on Mugabe’s health, the veteran leader has no publicly known serious ailment.
“My time will come, but for now, ‘no’. I am still fit enough to fight the sanctions and knock out (my opponents),” he said in reference to sanctions imposed on his Zanu PF party while former US President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were in office.
“It is Bush who is out, Blair out, and the others are persons of no consequence any more. They are inheritors of a situation. These (Bush and Blair) were the major arch enemies, they are the ones who brought this on us.”
Mugabe said Zimbabwe would continue to do its best even with sanctions in place.
“God is there. He showers his blessings on us. We continue to discover a number of resources, platinum, diamonds and gold and uranium.
“Those are recent ones, perhaps others will be coming, we don’t know. So God is not there for one nation, just for the Europeans, God is there for everybody, so God is great,” Mugabe said.
Mugabe has been in power for Zimbabwe’s 30 years of Independence from Britain since 1980.
Although he was forced into a power-sharing government with his arch-rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last year after a disputed re-election in 2008, he has said he may run for office again at the next election.
Mugabe said his government was waiting for positive movement from the US and the European Union to mend ties soured over the last decade by rows over the seizures of white-owned farms for landless blacks and charges of rights abuses and election fraud.
“We never refuse to talk to anybody,” he said when asked whether he was prepared to talk to Washington and Brussels.
“But what I don’t understand about the Europeans and the Americans is the negative attitude. How do they expect the kind of cold war they decided to wage on us, how do they intend it to end?”
Talks to improve ties with the EU have stalled over slow political reforms in Harare while US President Barack Obama said last month he was “heartbroken” by Zimbabwe’s decline.
Mugabe –– who last month told Western powers to go “to hell” over the sanctions –– yesterday said: “They have imposed unjustified and illegal sanctions on us. The sanctions are comparable to the military aggression in Iraq.”
Mugabe said some Western countries had hoped that sanctions on Zimbabwe would help push him out of power.
“That kind of regime change is the exclusive right of the people of Zimbabwe … I am born here and if my people want me to go, I go,” he said.
The 86-year-old leader said he hoped Obama and new British Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg would move to mend ties between Harare and the West.
“We are waiting to see what Cameron and Clegg will do and Obama also will do in regard to our situation and our relations,” Mugabe said.
“If they decide the relations should remain what they are, then we will know that they too are aggressors and not different from their predecessors, but we are giving them a chance.”
Mugabe told Reuters that his government would proceed with a plan for local blacks to acquire 51% shares in foreign-owned firms, including mines and banks, despite criticism it will hurt investment flows into the country.
“It has always been our aim to have control of our resources…and I don’t think the private sectors of the Western countries would, in toto, decide to stay away,” he said.
Mugabe says his policies are meant to correct colonial injustices and yesterday dismissed fears that the local ownership drive would be implemented haphazardly.
He expressed frustration with Zimbabwean middle class blacks who criticise his empowerment plans to give them a stake in an economy in which the majority are workers and managers.
“We are saying to them you are like an eagle brought up among chickens, an eagle that doesn’t know that it can do more than chickens and fly,” he said.


By Cris Chinaka

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