‘Do you want me to punch you to the floor?’ Robert Mugabe’s incredible threat to journalist after he is asked about whether he might retire now he is 92
- Mugabe threatened the journalist during his annual birthday interview
- The Zimbabwe leader said he was planning on remaining in post until 100
- He claimed he had no plans for allowing his wife Grace succeed him
- He said in a democratic party ‘you don’t want leaders appointed that way’
Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe threatened to punch a journalist to the floor during an interview on state TV when the president was asked whether he has any plans to retire.
The 92-year-old leader challenged the journalist and asked: ‘Do you want me to punch you to the floor to realise I am still there?’
Mugabe replied to the journalist: “Why ‘successor’ when I am still there?’ Why do you want a successor?’
Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe said he would punch a TV journalist who asked him about retirement
Mugabe, pictured, was interviewed as part of the celebrations for his 92nd birthday
Mugabe, pictured, said he wants to continue as president of Zimbabwe until he’s at least 100
The dictator, who has led Zimbabwe since the country was formed in 1980 after the collapse of white-ruled Rhodesia, claimed he has no plans to hand over power and ruled out grooming his politically ambitious wife, Grace, as his chosen successor.
He said: ‘Grooming a successor, is it an inheritance. In a democratic party you don’t want leaders appointed that way. They have to be appointed properly by the people. Succession is not part of our culture.’
Mugabe turned 92 on February 21 amid fierce squabbling in the ruling ZANU-PF party in anticipation of his succession.
Still, he defended his wife’s entry into politics and attacked anyone who was critical of her.
On Thursday, spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo of the ruling ZANU-PF party announced the suspension from the party of Cabinet Minister Chris Mutsvangwa and several other officials on allegations of disrespecting the First Lady.
In the interview, Mugabe said mining companies recently kicked out of Marange diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe ‘robbed us of our wealth,’ claiming billions of dollars were siphoned in gem smuggling.
Mugabe dismissed suggestions he was lining up his wife Grace, pictured right, as his successor claiming his party ZanuPF was a democratic institution and ‘succession is not part of our culture’
Some of the firms have gone to court challenging the order for them to leave the diamond-rich area.
Mugabe also attacked his former vice president Joice Mujuru who has established his own political party to challenge Zanu-PF.
The 92-year-old leader claimed: ‘They will live in the wilderness, where little ants and other biting insects are destined to live.
‘Some think we are afraid of them. We are not.’
Mujuru, who was sacked by Mugabe in 2014, officially unveiled the Zimbabwe People First party on Tuesday.
A former ZANU-PF stalwart and liberation war veteran, Mujuru served in all cabinets under Mugabe and was seen for many years as his favoured choice of successor.
But she was fired after a sustained campaign by the president’s wife Grace, who accused her of fomenting party division and plotting to topple Mugabe, who turned 92 two weeks ago.
As speculation increases over his succession, Mugabe vowed he would not hesitate to expel disloyal party members.
‘The party will always have negative elements. Those we feel are troublesome, we chuck them out,’ he said,
In his annual birthday interview screened by the state broadcaster ZBC on Thursday night, Mugabe ruled out naming a successor, saying he was nearing his goal of ruling until he is 100.
‘I want to reach 100 years so I have only eight strides to go,’ he said.
‘I did not go into the 2013 election for someone else to complete my term which ends in 2018.’
He is expected to stand again for election in 2018, but there is increasing speculation over his health and advancing age.
Mugabe has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980, overseeing a regime marked by vote-rigging, mass emigration, accusations of human rights abuses and economic decline.
He joked about another bout of rumours that he had died during his annual holidays to Asia.
‘I still exercise to keep alive, to resurrect when people say I am dead. Every January I must prepare the necessary exercise to resurrect.’
Mugabe also downplayed reports that he is preparing his wife, Grace, 50, to succeed him.
‘Where has it ever happened that a wife becomes a successor?’ asked Mugabe.
‘I have no authority to appoint someone as president after me.’
Mugabe announced he has taken Zimbabwe’s diamond mines back into public ownership
Last week Mugabe nationalised the country’s diamond mines accusing the foreign operators of stealing the gems.
He said: ‘We have not received much (money) from the diamond industry at all,’ Mugabe said in a two-hour interview screened late Thursday by state broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.
‘Our people… have not been able to see or hear what was going on and lots of swindling, smuggling have taken place and the companies that have been mining virtually robbed us of our wealth.
‘We have decided that this area should be a monopoly area and only the state should be able to do mining.’
Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa last month announced the government had seized diamond mines in the eastern Chiadzwa fields near the border with Mozambique after their licences expired.
Mugabe said only $2 billion had trickled into government coffers out of $15 billion generated by the industry, though he gave no timeframe for the figures.
Analysts predicted that nationalisation would decrease investment and may fail to boost government revenue.
‘The move is bringing uncertainty to investors. They are unnerved,’ Prosper Chitambara, an economist at the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe, told AFP.
‘You can’t just decide ‘We are taking over’. It makes Zimbabwe less attractive as an investment destination.’