Exclusive: Mugabe dismisses rumors of poor health

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE (BestGrowthStock) – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe Thursday dismissed rumors of ill-health, laughing off suggestions that he was dying of cancer and had recently suffered a stroke.

In an interview with Reuters at his official Zimbabwe House offices, Mugabe, 86, said he was surprised by speculation over his health, saying this had become a perennial issue and he hardly paid any serious attention to it.

“I don’t know how many times I die but nobody has ever talked about my resurrection,” he said at the end of an hour-long interview.

“I suppose they don’t want to, because it would mean they would mention my resurrection several times and that would be quite divine, an achievement for an individual who is not divine.

“Jesus died once, and resurrected only once, and poor Mugabe several times,” he said, clapping his hands loudly, laughing and rocking in his chair.

He did not say whether he planned to stand in the next presidential ballot after his disputed re-election in 2008.

Without getting into details on whether he had any serious health problems, Mugabe — who appeared fit and lively for his age — said only God could decide issues of life and death.

Although there have been reports over the last 10 years on Mugabe’s health, the veteran Zimbabwean leader has no publicly known serious ailment.

DIVINE HELP

“My time will come, but for now, ‘no’. I am still fit enough to fight the sanctions and knock out (my opponents),” he said in reference to sanctions imposed on his ZANU-PF party while former U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were in office.

“It is Bush who is out, Blair out, and the others are persons of no consequence any more. They are inheritors of a situation,” he said in an interview in which he called for improved relations between Zimbabwe and Western powers.

“These (Bush and Blair) were the major arch enemies, they are the ones who brought this on us.”

Mugabe said Zimbabwe would continue to do its best even with sanctions in place.

“God is there. He showers his blessings on us. We continue to discover a number of resources, platinum, diamonds and gold and uranium.

“Those are recent ones, perhaps others will be coming, we don’t know. So God is not there for one nation, just for the Europeans, God is there for everybody, so God is great,” Mugabe said.

Mugabe has been in power for Zimbabwe’s 30 years of independence from Britain since 1980.

Although Mugabe was forced into a power-sharing government with his arch-rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last year after a disputed re-election in 2008, he has said he may run for office again at the next election.

No date has been set for the poll, but many expect the unity government to last to 2012, by which time Mugabe will be 88.

(Editing by Matthew Tostevin and Janet Lawrence)

Exclusive: Mugabe dismisses rumors of poor health