He may be shaky on his feet and nearing 93 – but longtime Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe is the ruling party’s pick for polls in less than two years’ time AND he’ll win.
That is state media’s line anyway.
With Zanu-PF’s annual party conference about to kick off in the rain-soaked southern city of Masvingo, the pro-Mugabe Chronicle published an editorial proclaiming that the president was “actually odds-on favourite to be retained in the 2018 elections.”
But the paper did admit to the constant bickering in the party, which is really the only threat to its continued stay in power. Mugabe took power at independence in 1980 and has remained there ever since. “We demand discipline in the party and unity, particularly at the top where all the plotting is being done. They must close ranks and face the common enemy – the economy which hasn’t been doing well for 16 years,” said the Chronicle.
State media – or at least the state-controlled newspapers – appear to be in the hands of a faction of Zanu-PF led by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who’s keen to cement his position as next in line for power. He’s facing a tough challenge from the G40 grouping of Zanu-PF’s “Young Turks”, who include Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo. Their strength – or their untouchability so far – stems from their links to Mugabe’s wife Grace. Currently embroiled in a scandal over a $1.4m diamond ring, she may have presidential ambitions herself.
Zimbabwe’s opposition is divided and weakened, despite months of growing unrest on the back of the #ThisFlag protest. Independent analysts forecast grimly that Morgan Tsvangirai and his co-opposition leaders (and they are many) will lose, with Zimbabwe academic Professor Eldred Masunungure reportedly telling a meeting at the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute last week that the ruling party was at its weakest but its rivals are “even weaker.”
At least 7 000 delegates will attend the Masvingo conference, which will be officially opened by Mugabe on Friday.