The ruling Zanu PF has once again endorsed President Robert Mugabe, 91, as its sole candidate for the 2018 presidential election, effectively ruling out an immediate successor to Zimbabwe’s leader who has ruled the country for more than 35 years.
According to the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, all delegates attending the party’s just-ended 15th Annual People’s Conference in Victoria Falls, Matabeleland North province, endorsed him the 2018 presidential candidate with some even asking Mr. Mugabe to become life president.
President Mugabe will be 94 years old in 2018, making him the first person in the world to run for presidential polls at that advanced age.
Provincial reports presented at the conference, which was focusing on the current state of the party and Zimbabwe’s ailing economy, indicate that the president is the only person who can remove himself from his post of first secretary and president.
The ZBC reports that Zanu PF Masvingo provincial chairperson, Ezra Chadzamira, went a step further at the conference telling about 6,000 delegates that his region supports a one party state “and the leadership of Cde Mugabe until he dies.”
Not to be left out, according to the ZBC, Mashonaland West province's Ephraim Chengeta, said, “President Mugabe should lead the country and the party until he himself decides otherwise.”
This was supported by almost all provinces with some stressing that there is need to re-introduce the women’s quota system in the presidium, a move insiders say is designed to pave the way for Women’s League boss, First Lady Grace Mugabe, who allegedly habours presidential ambitions.
Mrs. Mugabe has been of late distancing herself from the presidium though critics and some Zanu PF officials say she wants to succeed her aging husband.
A group known as the Generation 40 is reportedly pushing this agenda with the view of displacing Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa from the presidium and replacing him with Mrs. Mugabe.
The quota system was set aside when the party ousted former Vice President Joice Mujuru it accused of attempting to topple the president. She has dismissed these allegations as baseless and is currently in the process of forming her own party.
The state-controlled media also reports that in remarks to mark the end of the conference on Saturday, President Mugabe attacked so-called arrogant war veterans for undermining some party members.
According to the Zanu PF-leaning Herald newsapper and ZBC, Mr. Mugabe said such attitudes towards common party supporters promoted factionalism in the ruling party.
"Some people brag to others, I am so and so, I went to war and you did not got go, nonsense. Stop bragging with your war credentials. The likes of Cde [Phelekezela] Mphoko and Cde [Emmerson] Mnangagwa have gone there but I have never heard them bragging. Some will ask you, did you go alone, or what did you do there?" said Mr. Mugabe, adding that the party respects war veterans.
He singled out Joseph Chinotimba, describing him as an example of a humble, disciplined and progressive war veteran.
President Mugabe also slammed what he termed "intellectual arrogance", saying some people think that they are too well-educated to get actively involved in the party, noting that some were discouraging their chidlren from speaking local languages.
He further said these so-called intellectuals have also stopped eating sadza, which is Zimbabwe's staple food.