Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will be the presidential candidate for the governing Zanu-PF party in the 2018 elections. It was made official on Saturday at the party’s youth wing conference where the majority of members proposed that the 92-year-old Mugabe should be declared president for life.
The young supporters of the decades-old party chanted pro-Mugabe slogans, calling for his continued rule.
During his speech at the conference, Mugabe accepted the nomination, while urging party members to stop fighting over who will be his successor.
This comes a few weeks after Mugabe was reported to have suggested that he might step down at the end of his current tenure.
Mugabe has been the president of Zimbabwe since its independence in 1980 and is one of the longest-serving presidents in Africa.
Growing Civil Unrest
Since July, President Mugabe’s critics have staged anti-government protests on the streets of the capital Harare, demanding that he step down.
Last month, he was recorded struggling to walk on the red carpet at the COP22 Climate Change Summit in Morocco, raising questions about his health.
But Mugabe has sworn to crush anyone calling for his retirement.
Zimbabwe, which is going through one of the worst economic crunches in its history, has been forced to introduce controversial bond notes to replace local currencies.
Many Zimbabweans have slept outside banks in long queues anxiously waiting to withdraw their money.
There are also reports that prisoners are dying of hunger because the government is unable to supply them with food. In May, the government freed 2,000 prisoners in an attempt to reduce the financial burden on prisons.
But the defiant Mugabe maintains that the current economic crisis in the country is a financial sabotage by some Western critics who want him to retire.
Local and international critics have often condemned some of Mugabe’s policies, saying they are designed to scare away foreign investors.
Earlier this year, the Zimbabwean parliament passed a law that requires all foreign-owned companies in the country to relinquish 51 percent of their shares to native Zimbabweans.
Many foreign governments are said to be reluctant to engage with President Mugabe due to his hostile behavior towards the West.
Multilateral bodies, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are reluctant to lend money to the cash-strapped country until the government implements an agreed-upon economic reform agenda.
BY FREDRICK NGUGI