Mugabe begins campaigning for 2018 election

Zimbabwe's president was on Friday ready to kick off a set of political rallies aimed at drumming up support among the youth in his bid to remain in office.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

The 93-year old, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, is not about to give up office just yet.

Zimbabwe's nonagenarian President Robert Mugabe Friday started the campaign for the 2018 elections in that country with the first of a set of youth rallies across the country in a bid to get the youth vote.

The first rally, in Marondera, about 80 kilometres east of the country's capital city of Harare, saw Mugabe arrive at the Rudhaka stadium on the back of a police van.

Critics have accused Mugabe of wrecking one of Africa's most promising economies and causing unemployment of currently around 80 percent through policies such as violent seizures of white-owned commercial farms and money printing.

He and his party say the economy has been undermined by Western powers.

"This year we will have a bumper harvest. Not just maize, we have cotton and tobacco ... we are not a poor country," Mugabe said.

Despite numerous protests against his leadership, he said many people still supported his government, adding: "Economies cannot grow as quickly as our people expect them to. Investment should have come long ago."

He is due to lead his ZANU-PF party as its candidate for the next presidential election expected in mid-2018, when he will be 94.

Lately, he has been often spotted falling asleep at various functions. However, officials have denied this, saying that he merely closes his eyes to protect them.

Mugabe asleep as he attends the World Economic Forum meeting in Durban South Africa earlier this year. (Reuters)

At a recent World Economic Forum conference, Mugabe told reporters that Zimbabwe was one of the most developed nations in Africa. However, the country has languished economically and millions of Zimbabweans have left in a bid to make a living for themselves. An estimated one million Zimbabweans live in South Africa alone. Some estimates place that figure much higher.

It was not lost on the local residents of Marondera why the roads in the town were suddenly getting a new layer of asphalt, with many reporting the fixing of the roads on Twitter.

TRTWorld and agencies