PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has insisted he will “never” choose a successor while hinting that the person who takes his place may not be one of his two vice presidents.

“The party has a choice. Not me. I’ve said I don’t choose my successor.

Never!” Mugabe said in an interview shown late Friday on state ZBC television ahead of his 91st birthday party.

“I will discuss with others, yes,” he added. “A successor can come from any level of the party, but usually the top levels—the central committee, the politburo. It may not be either of the vice presidents.”

Mugabe recently appointed two deputies, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko after sacking Zimbabwe’s first-ever female vice president Joice Mujuru.

His comments will fuel some speculation that Mugabe would prefer to see his wife Grace, 49, succeed him, though he did not confirm this. Mugabe insisted Grace was “not the power behind my throne” and only entered politics last year because female supporters of the party asked her to.

The president’s birthday interview was split into two halves, with the first part shown Thursday night.The Citizen