Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe who turns 90 on Friday says there is no need to talk about his succession because he is not about to retire.
According to extracts of an interview published by the government owned media on Thursday, President Mugabe said he was not happy with the jockeying for his post in his Zanu PF party.
A full interview is set to be broadcast on state television on Thursday night.
The veteran ruler, in power since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, said his retirement was not due and those raising the succession issue would divide his party.
He said he does not want to leave Zanu PF divided along factional lines.
“But why should it (succession) be discussed when it is not due? Is it due?” he asked.
“The people can discuss it if they want, but the moment they start they go into factions and then you find the party dividing itself and so why discuss it when it is not due?
President Mugabe added: “When the day comes and I retire, yes, sure the day will come, but I do not want to leave my party in tatters. I want to leave it intact.”
He said those angling to succeed him risked expulsion from Zanu PF as they were fanning factionalism.
Vice President Joice Mujuru and Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa have often been identified as leaders of a faction jostling to position themselves in the event President Mugabe decides to retire.
However, the two have repeatedly denied the accusations.
President Mugabe said it was “terrible even to have your name mentioned as leader of a faction. It is shameful.”
The Zanu PF factionalism played out during the party’s provincial elections held last December.
There is a belief that any leader whose factions is in pole position ahead of Zanu PF’s next elective congress would stand a better chance to succeed President Mugabe.
But the former school teacher, now of one Africa’s longest serving leaders, promised to ruthlessly crush the camps in his party going forward.
“That is what we are fighting against and I am going to fight against this one quite blatantly because that is what is destroying the party,” he charged.
President Mugabe’s succession has been discussed in hushed tones for decades and he has repeatedly stressed that he is not thinking about retirement.