Ousted President Robert Mugabe tells ITV News that Zimbabwe 'must undo disgrace' of 'military takeover'

Former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has told ITV News he was forced out of power by a military coup - but played down reports he plans to re-run for office.

In an exclusive interview with Africa Correspondent John Ray, Mr Mugabe opened up for the first time since he was removed as leader late last year.

During his 40 years in power, Mr Mugabe was accused of ruining the African nation's economy and overseeing human rights abuses.

These days he is confined to his palatial home where the presence of soldiers ensures it also serves as a prison.

Even the drive through the lavish grounds of his home throws up stark comparisons with the poverty many Zimbabwean people endure.

Deprived of power, Mr Mugabe seems diminished. Now he wants to speak, for the first time, about his downfall.

"It was, truly, a military takeover," he told ITV News. "We must undo this disgrace which we have imposed on ourselves.

"We don't deserve it. We don't deserve it."

This is the first time in four decades that Mr Mugabe has found himself in opposition.

Now his former protege Emmerson Mnangagwa is leading the country.

While Mr Mnangagwa refers to Mr Mugabe as a father figure, his predecessor accuses him of being a traitor.

"In not wanting to be democratic he [Mnangagwa] has betrayed the whole nation," Mugabe said.

"We are topsy turvy."

Mr Mugabe's former protege Emmerson Mnangagwa is now president. Credit: AP

Mr Mugabe insists he did not watch the protests which erupted across the country demanding he be stripped of power in the days leading to his downfall.

He also refuses to acknowledge the widespread celebrations which followed. Indeed, Mr Mugabe speaks of still being popular to this day.

He also denies he has ruined the prosperity of Zimbabwe and left the country in ruins.

"Ruined? Of course not," he told ITV News.

"If anything there is, in comparison to other countries in Africa, a greater prosperity here. People have their land."

The former president speaks of still being popular. Credit: AP

Amid accusations of widespread abuse of human rights, Mr Mugabe admitted that mistakes were made,

"We have been accused of that. On that side, yes, some errors were done," he said.

Though Mr Mugabe remains confined to this mansion, rumours abound whether he is plotting a return to power. But he insists there is no truth to this.

"No. I don't want to be president again. I'm now 94," he told ITV News.

Instead, he says he wants to restore democracy to the country, despite having been accused himself of stealing election after election.

Another election is planned in Zimbabwe in a few months.