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Mugabe says to retire not at instigation of West


19:22, June 28, 2013

HARARE, June 28 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe says in a rare interview published Friday that he has plans to retire in the future but not at the instigation of the West.

He said his 33-year stay in power has largely been influenced by his desire to defy machinations by the West to cause regime change in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe, 89, has ruled Zimbabwe uninterrupted since the country' s independence from Britain in 1980, and is seeking re-election for another five-year term in national elections set for July 31.

His first two decades in power were largely characterized by a cordial relationship with the West and it was only over the last 10 years that relations between the two took a downturn after Harare took land from white farmers for redistribution to the landless black in the country.

The period since 2002 when the European Union and the United States imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe has therefore been a tense one for Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party on one hand and the West on another.

In an interview carried by the state newspaper Herald on Friday, Mugabe vowed he would not yield to Western pressure to retire but would only do so at the right time and when his party was united and stronger.

"Well, I will retire someday but I can't say I'm going to an election in order to retire. That will be decided as and when the situation demands," he said.

Mugabe said when asked if in the event he wins the election, he would cut short his term and hand over power to a chosen successor from his party.

He added: "But you see, my brother, we had to demonstrate to the West that it's not you who should instruct us to stand down, ha, regime change does not work. Who are you to want our regime to change?"

Mugabe, who was forced into a coalition government with rivals Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube of the two MDC factions following disputed elections in 2008, often accuses Tsvangirai's party of being used by the West to effect regime change in the country.

Tsvangirai has often scolded Mugabe for refusing to retire despite his advanced age.

In the interview, Mugabe said his party launched a "defiant campaign" against the West's regime change agenda but "we will settle down and naturally we should allow power to transfer".

The veteran ruler also touched on his private life, saying he had managed to live for this long due to a combination of genes, the zeal to defend the country's revolutionary gains and a healthy lifestyle that he maintains.

"Despite my age its politics that keeps me ticking. It also has to do with? the gift which you derive from your parents.. There is a bit of that also on my part, I don't drink, I don't smoke and I have annual checks on my health and so on."

The president admitted he does not spend enough time with his three children from wife Grace, as the children are mostly at school either in or outside the country.

The president used to play tennis as a hobby sometime ago but that had since stopped as he now preferred exercising daily to keep his body fit.

He said he was also good at the game of draughts as he used to play it a lot while in prison during the country's liberation struggle, but was not good at chess.

"I didn't play the more complex one, chess, oh! That one someone tried to teach me but I didn't master it well. It's a good game, a very intellectual game, a political game."

The president also spoke on the favorite dishes of his wife which he said were fish, other seafood and even foo foo (pounded cassava or yam) from Ghana which his late wife Sally, used to make.

A Ghanaian, Sally died in 1992 of kidney failure after having been married to Mugabe for 31 years.

And while she is gone, some of her kitchen dishes like foo foo have been inherited in Mugabe's home with second wife Grace where they are liked "quite a lot" by the children.

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