PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe will rule Zimbabwe until he is 100 years old and, if need be, a special wheelchair will be designed for the veteran leader who now struggles to walk and has battled with swollen ankles for years.
Mugabe has been in power since independence in 1980. He turns 92 next February and his Zanu PF party has already nominated him as its presidential candidate for the 2018 elections when he will be 94.
Recent stumbles at Harare international airport as well as during a foreign trip to India have drawn opposition calls for him to step down and allow a younger and more energetic leader to take over.
Never, said the president’s wife, Grace, while addressing supporters at Murewa Business Centre in Mashonaland East on Saturday.
“We are going to create a special wheelchair for President Mugabe until he rules to 100 years because that is what we want.
“That is the people’s choice. We want a leader that respects us,” said Grace.
She however, admitted that divisions in Zanu PF remained the main threat to her husband staying in power for life.
“But with factionalism that will not happen.
“There is a lot of factionalism but the grassroots people are not stupid and those fanning factionalism will reap what they sow,” Grace said without mentioning any names.
Although President Mugabe repeatedly indicates he will not retire, his lieutenants continue to bicker over his succession with turf wars splintering the ruling party.
The divisions saw the dismissal of former vice president, Joice Mujuru, and a scores of party leaders and cabinet ministers said to have backed the alleged coup.
Mujuru’s ouster has not ended to the squabbling with new rows said to pit a faction rallying behind vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, against the younger G-40 grouping which appears to support Grace.
On Saturday, the First Lady warned power hungry party officials to remember what happened to Mujuru’s bid to replace President Mugabe.
“Do not be deceived. Do not be short-sighted,” she said.
“Leaders come from God. It will not work now or in the future. Let’s be well mannered people. You should listen to me now.
“Therefore, let’s pray to God for many more years for President Mugabe. We say no to factionalism.
She added that Zanu PF should not be like the opposition MDC, which is “tearing itself apart”.
“The MDC is tearing itself apart; instead of taking advantage of that we are following what they are doing.
“You notice that its leader (Morgan Tsvangirai) seems to have lost his brains by calling for sanctions in order for him to become President.”
She added: “I am a 600 horse power and it will not happen.
“We have President Mugabe who is a 1000 horse power and he will not allow that. We have a President who does not fear anything.
“We will not allow ourselves to be controlled by a minority group. I won’t be intimidated by anyone. I am thick skinned like an elephant or a crocodile.”
She then she shifted her anger to journalists who she accused of writing falsehoods about her and threatened to withdraw rice that she had donated them.
“Why are you doing that? Is it hunger? Let us give each other respect. Inga ndino kurisipekitayi wani. Hokoyo ndinokudhuzha,” she said.
“Let us not write stories that destroy people’s lives. The coming Zanu PF conference has nothing about electing new leaders, she said
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