Mugabe Vows to Stay in Power, Claims More Resilience Than "Christ"

On his 88th birthday, the longtime leader of Zimbabwe allayed rumors about his ailing health and joked that he has “beaten Christ” at longevity.

Posted: 02/21/2012 11:01 AM EST
Robert Mugabe

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe celebrates his 88th birthday Tuesday, February 21, and made sure to let the world know that he has no plans of letting his age slow him down.


Speaking on state radio on the eve of his birthday, Mugabe told listeners that he is healthy and joked that he has been resurrected like Jesus Christ.


"I have died many times. That's where I have beaten Christ. Christ died once and [was] resurrected once," the Catholic Mugabe told the show's host. "I am as fit as a fiddle."


The comment was another attempt to dispel rumors that the elder statesman is battling cancer. Mugabe has done his best to prove his health since a 2008 WikiLeaks cable revealed that the leader was asked to step down from office by his doctor after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer that had spread to other organs.


But, as he marked his 88th year of life during his 32nd year in power in Zimbabwe, Mugabe gave health tips and reassured the country that he has no plans of stepping down any time soon.


"There are things one must do for oneself. Don't drink at all, don't smoke, you must exercise and eat vegetables and fruit," he said. "At this age I can still go some distance, can't I.”


Mugabe was once one of the country’s most-heralded heroes as one of the leaders of the liberation movement that ousted white colonial forces from the country. After assuming office in 1980, he immediately began adopting radical measures to restore land and wealth back to the country’s Black population after decades of exploitation. But, more than 30 years later, many are dissatisfied with the country’s struggling economy, rife corruption and ostracism from the West, who decry Mugabe’s policies.


In addition, Mugabe has raked up a long list of alleged human rights violations, many aimed at supporters of his opponents, in efforts to keep his grip on power.


However, seemingly unfatigued by three decades in power, Mugabe chaired a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.


"Our members of the party will certainly select someone once I say I am now retiring, but not yet," he said in a separate interview with state TV.


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(Photo: JASON SZENES/Landov)

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