Mugabe blasts Mandela


South African President Nelson Mandela (C) and his counterparts, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (L) and Namibia's Sam Nujoma (R), shake hands after a joint pressconference in Pretoria, 05 March 1999.

JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has blasted former president Nelson Mandela&39;s reconciliation policies, and has labelled him "too much of a saint" in a television interview, The Sunday Independent reported.

"Mandela has gone a bit too far in doing good to the non-black communities, really in some cases at the expense of [blacks]...," Mugabe reportedly told talk show host Dali Tambo in an interview.

"That is being too saintly, too good, too much of a saint," he said.

The interview, filmed for Tambo&39;s show People of the South, would be aired next Sunday, the newspaper reported.

According to The Sunday Independent , the interview included footage of the Mugabe family and interviews with Mugabe&39;s wife Grace at a diary farm.

Tambo filmed the interview in Zimbabwe before Christmas and showed the family the final edit in Harare last weekend.

The newspaper reported that Tambo had denied accusations that he was sprucing up Mugabe&39;s image through the "rare" interview and said he did not mind who was angry with him for interviewing the Zimbabwean leader.

"I interviewed Rhodesian leader Ian Smith in Cape Town in a previous series. This programme is not HardTalk.... It is not a political programme. We all have a nice lunch together. Mugabe is an icon," he told the newspaper.

The Sunday Times reported that Mugabe told Tambo in the interview that it was not time for him to go yet, and that Zimbabweans still needed him.

He reportedly told Tambo age would not force him out of office.

"My people still need me, and when people need you to lead them it is not time, sir -- it doesn&39;t matter how old you are -- to say goodbye."

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