I’ll not impose successor on Zimbabweans - President

Mugabe was joined by thousands of supporters to celebrate his birthday at a school in Matobo, just a short distance from the grave of colonialist Cecil John Rhodes.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe speaks at the party's annual conference on December 17, 2016 in Masvingo

He said if the ruling ZANU-PF party felt he should retire, it would hold an extraordinary congress to choose a new leader.

The world’s oldest leader, who turned 93 this week, has maintained a tight grip on power in Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.

He is due to stand for re-election next year and says ZANU-PF has no viable alternative candidates.

Mugabe was joined by thousands of supporters to celebrate his birthday at a school in Matobo, just a short distance from the grave of colonialist Cecil John Rhodes.

Matobo is one of the areas that suffered heavy casualties during the 1980s crackdown by an elite North Korean-trained brigade against rebels loyal to Joshua Nkomo, Mugabe’s then rival.

Rights groups said that 20,000 civilians died during the so-called Gukurahundi offensive.

Rhodes was an imperialist, businessman and politician who played a dominant role in Southern Africa in the late 19th century, driving the annexation of vast swathes of land.

According to the report, some people are requesting that the president should choose a successor before he retired.

“Others are saying ‘President, choose a successor before you retire.

“Is that not imposition, me imposing someone on the party, No, I don’t want that.

“This is an issue for the congress to choose, we can have an extraordinary congress if the president retires but you said I should be your candidate in the next election,” Mugabe said.

Critics said Mugabe’s policies, like the seizure of white-owned farms for blacks and his black economic empowerment drive have ruined the once promising country.

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