Mugabe turns 88, declares himself 'fit as a fiddle'

A December 8, 2011 photo shows Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe arriving at the party's 12th National People's Conference in Bulawayo. Mr Mugabe, who turned 88 on February 21, says he has no plans of retirement. PHOTO | AFP 

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has dismissed speculation he is dying of prostate cancer and declared that he was as "fit as a fiddle" as he turned 88 on Tuesday.

He is expected to mark his birthday with a small cake party hosted by his office staff ahead of a bigger party on Saturday.

Speculation over the veteran ruler’s health swirled last year after leaked United States diplomatic cables quoted Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono saying he had advanced cancer.

Last year President Mugabe also made frequent trips to Singapore amid claims that he was receiving medical treatment there.

But in one of many interviews to mark his birthday, he told state radio: “I have died many times. I have actually beaten Jesus Christ because he only died once.”

President Mugabe claimed he kept fit by exercising regularly and stayed away from alcohol and smoking.

"The day will come when I will become sick,” he said in the interview. “And as of now I am fit as a fiddle."

No retirement

The Zimbabwean leader who is already one of the longest serving rulers in Africa with 32 years at the helm also said he is not considering retirement.

Instead, he wants elections held this year with or without the reforms demanded by his coalition government partners and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

In one of the interviews, President Mugabe threatened to reject South African President Jacob Zuma as a SADC mediator after his facilitation team insisted on reforms.

On Saturday a birthday bash will be held in the eastern border town of Mutare on Saturday.

Two of the country’s top football teams will clash in the $1 million BOB 88 Super Cup.

There will also be a beauty pageant and an all night music gala after the day’s festivities usually characterised by feasting and music.

On Tuesday, companies also bought acres of space in state owned newspapers to congratulate President Mugabe.

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