JOHANNESBURG - President Robert Mugabe reportedly told his former defence minister that he is tired and wants to retire, but fears that such a move will cause his party to disintegrate.
Enos Nkala held a private meeting with the 88-year-old president last week.
Nkala said Mugabe does not believe he can retire just yet.
Nkala told Zimbabwe's private Standard newspaper that Mugabe has yet to find a successor capable of leading his fractious ZANU-PF party.
The president apparently said factions were eating away at the party.
Nkala said Mugabe has to stay on for the sake of peace, otherwise the country could explode into "chaos or civil war".
He told the paper: "It's easy for people to say Mugabe must go, Mugabe must go, but most don't know that he is the glue that has been holding this country together."
Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have not reached an agreement of when the next elections can be held. Mugabe wants to exit the 2009 power-sharing deal soon, but the prime minister is adamant that key reforms be implemented to the country’s constitution first.
Meanwhile, there have been various reports that Mugabe’s health is deteriorating.
However, his government has denied that and claims that the president has prostate cancer.
Why Mugabe's former critic, Nkala, decided to reveal what was said during the private meeting will certainly raise questions.
Nkala was fired from Mugabe’s party during the 1980s.
Mugabe has ruled the country since 1987.
(Edited by Thato Motaung)