HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — U.S.
President Donald Trump's "America First" policy has an
admirer in Zimbabwe's longtime president, who says the policy
resonates with his own thinking.
President Robert Mugabe, who turned 93
on Tuesday and is the world's oldest head of state, spoke in a
birthday interview with state-run media.
"When it comes to Donald Trump, on
the one hand talking of American nationalism, well, America for
America, America for Americans — on that we agree. Zimbabwe for
Zimbabweans," he said.
Mugabe has previously defended Trump,
even saying he didn't want Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to
win last year's election. He also said he hoped Trump's
administration would remove sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe more than a
decade ago over alleged human rights abuses and electoral
But Mugabe questioned Trump's plan to
build a wall on the Mexican border. "It appears quite nasty. I
don't know how the Mexicans will take it. I thought the Americans
once loved Mexico," he said. "I don't know. Give him time.
He might come up with better policies."
A large birthday celebration is
scheduled for Saturday in tribute to Mugabe, who has ruled since
independence from white minority rule in 1980 and vows to stand again
in elections next year.
In the interview with state media,
Mugabe also described his wife Grace, an increasingly political
figure, as "fireworks" because of her feisty remarks in his
The 51-year-old first lady has hotly
defended her husband against critics who say it is time for him to
step down, declaring last week that the ruling party should field him
as a corpse if he dies before the election.
"Fireworks, isn't it?" the
president said of her remarks, laughing.
Grace Mugabe's political rise has been
a source of consternation for opposition figures as well as some
officials within the ruling ZANU-PF party who suspect she is
positioning herself for a more powerful role in the government.
The president described her as "very
much accepted by the people" and said the women's wing of the
ruling party had chosen his wife as its head because of her political
He described her as "well-seasoned"
and "a very strong character."
Mugabe also repeated his pledge to
stand in 2018 elections despite calls from some Zimbabweans for him
to quit amid economic turmoil in the once-prosperous country. The
president said he was still popular and nobody is qualified to
"The volume of wishes for the
president to stand, the number of people who will be disappointed is
galore and I don't want to disappoint them," he said.
During the interview, Mugabe often
gestured to emphasize points. He spoke slowly and was slumped into a
leather armchair most of the time.