Memo to the international community: Robert Mugabe is double-dog daring you to do something about his incompetence and tyranny:

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s president, on Friday vowed “never” to bow to external pressure to step down and said no African country had the courage to send troops in to oust him.

Addressing the annual congress of his Zanu-PF party in Bindura, the 84-year-old autocrat – in power since leading Zimbabwe to independence from Britain in 1980 – was at his most defiant.

The death toll from an outbreak of cholera reached 1,111 this week, from some 20,600 reported cases, raising pressure on regional states to intervene more forcefully and causing growing exasperation around the world at the veteran Zimbabwean leader’s refusal to follow the spirit of a September power-sharing accord.

But Mr Mugabe brushed off a growing international outcry at the suffering caused by the gathering collapse of the Zimbabwean economy and implosion of public services and mocked recent calls from several leading African figures for him to resign.

“I will never, never, never, never surrender,” he told his followers. He said he would remain in power until Zimbabweans “decide to change him. Zimbabwe is mine, I am a Zimbabwean. Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans.”

“Zimbabwe is mine.” Note that phrase and the commensurate implications that Mugabe can do whatever he wishes with Zimbabwe. If you are as appalled and disgusted with what has happened to Zimbabwe during the course of Mugabe’s tyranny, those words ought to send chills up your spine.

I have to think that this is a test for Africa. Will it allow Mugabe to make a mockery of the continent, or will it actually muster up the courage to take him on?