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Mugabe Set to Address Election Rally in Matabeleland South Province

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe addressing members of his Zanu PF party at a football stadium in Lupane, about 600km south west of Zimbabwe's capital (S. Mhofu/VOA)

President Robert Mugabe is expected to hold an election rally in Gwanda, Matabeleland South province, on Saturday amid demands by some pressure groups for him to address the killing of thousands of people by state security forces in the 1980s.

Mr. Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980 and is set to contest the 2018 presidential election at the age of 94, is set to address local people unhappy with the way the president has handled the Gukurahundi massacres.

Some of the people who were killed were allegedly dumped in mineshafts in Kezi communal lands, about 64 kilometers west of the Matabeleland South provincial capital.

President Mugabe has held several so-called Youth Interface Meetings in various parts of Zimbabwe as the country prepares for a crucial general election.

In the Youth Interface Rally in Chinhoyi two weeks ago, First Lady Grace Mugabe urged President Robert Mugabe to name a successor in order to stop factionalism crippling the ruling Zanu PF party, claiming that presidential spokesperson George Charamba and several other people are fanning conflicts in the party.

She said, “I know the constitution. I am educated and remember that I am Doctor Grace Mugabe. I know what I am talking about. All what I am saying is that the president has a role to play in his own succession. He cannot just watch the process …”

She attacked senior party officials fanning factionalism, including Mrs. Sarah Mahoka, who she claimed wanted the party to remove Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa from office.

She added that some people even wanted to victimize Zanu PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere and Higher Education Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo.

“… Please let us tell each other the truth. The truth must come out now. Kasukuwere was just being victimized. Kasukuwere is a minister appointed by the president… There is no one with a right to remove Kasukuwere without the authority of the president. If people were not happy with what Kasukuwere was doing then they should have written down their grievances and approached the president. It’s not good for big people to stand before crowds and utter useless things. Stop it."

She was criticized by several critics who noted that Mr. Mugabe has no power to appoint a successor.

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