Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe vowed to stay in power, telling the nation he is fit as a fiddle.

Mugabe, who turned 88 on Tuesday, shrugged off international criticism of his economic and human rights record, telling state television, At this age I can still go some distance, can't I.

The interview comes after rumblings within his ruling ZANU-PF party that he should hand over power to a younger leader.

Last year, WikiLeaks released a June 2008 U.S. diplomatic cable that said Mugabe had prostate cancer that had spread to other organs. His doctor urged him to step down in 2008, according to the cable.

 I have died many times. That's where I have beaten Christ. Christ died once and resurrected once, Mugabe defiantly told the broadcaster.

I am as fit as a fiddle.

At this age I can still go some distance, can't I, Mugabe said, laughing, clapping his hands and rocking in his chair.

Our members of the party will certainly select someone once I say I am now retiring, but not yet.

Mugabe once charmed global figures with his wit and intellect in the early years of his rule when a relatively rich Zimbabwe was praised for its education and social systems.

But he has since become a pariah in the West, blamed for running the economy into the ground and for massive human rights abuses to keep his grip on power.

Asked whether his party still had anything more to offer after more than three decades in power, Mugabe said ZANU-PF's signature policies remained the defense of political independence and the pursuit of black economic empowerment.

Critics say ZANU-PF has helped ruin one of Africa's most promising economies with its seizures and distribution of white-owned commercial farms, and its more recent drive to force foreign-owned firms to transfer majority shareholdings to Zimbabweans.

Mugabe, who has ruled the southern African state since its independence from Britain in 1980, chaired a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.