Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has declared that he is not prepared to step down despite his old age, and growing concern over his health.
Mugabe told thousands of his ruling Zanu-PF supporters at a rally held at Chinhoyi University of Technology that he was still fit to continue as president of the southern African country.
The veteran leader, whose party was battling internal fissures caused by his failure to groom a successor in his 37 years in power, said he would remain in office because his party was sharply divided and he did not have faith that any other member of his party would be able to square off with former premier Morgan Tsvangirai of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party in an election.
"Some people would want to be president of this country. Some are saying the president is going but I am not going anywhere. Some are saying I'm dying but I am not dying," said Mugabe.
Mugabe, 93, said he feared that at the present time any person who wanted to succeed him would be trounced by Tsvangirai in an election.
Zimbabweans were set to go for polls in 2018.
'My organs are still very strong'
Zanu-PF was currently divided into two distinct factions that were battling to take over from Mugabe when he eventually left office. One faction was reportedly led by Mugabe's deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, while another faction made up of Young Turks was pushing First Lady Grace Mugabe to torpedo Mnangagwa's presidential ambitions by having her succeed her ageing husband.
"Anyone who wants to take over will need time to be accepted by the people. There is no unity in the party at the moment and the MDC will have a field day if someone new is to contest against Tsvangirai," said the nonagenarian.
The nonagenarian's declaration that he was not ready to leave office was made only a few days after his wife Grace urged him to name his successor.
Mugabe's remarks came at a time when Tsvangirai and other pro-democracy groups in the southern African country had called on the Zimbabwean strongman to relinquish power for failing to run the affairs of the impoverished nation.
Spokesperson of the Tajamuka pressure group, Promise Mkwananzi, said that Mugabe was no longer fit for purpose and should step aside for new blood to take over.
"He [Mugabe] is old and frail and he must therefore resign because he is incapacitated to lead the country," said Mkwananzi.
However, Mugabe -- who has made numerous trips to Singapore for medical attention -- said he still had the energy to continue as president of Zimbabwe.
"My doctors have told me that my organs are still very strong. They were surprised that my bones are still very strong and I pray that God will continue to give me the gift of life," said the veteran leader. News24