Mugabe, 93, has ruled the southern African nation since independence from Britain in 1980 and wants to seek another five-year term next year, his last under Zimbabwe's constitution.

Mugabe has slurred his words in interviews this year and struggled to walk in public.
Mugabe has slurred his words in interviews this year and struggled to walk in public.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe addressed thousands of supporters as he began campaigning in earnest for what may be his last election next year.

The 93-year-old spoke for close to two hours Friday in a town east of the capital, Harare. The rally was the first in a series the world's oldest head of state is expected to address nationwide.

Mugabe defended his government's often violent land reform program in which whites were evicted to make way for landless blacks. He also promised land for youths.

The president added that those who thought he was finished due to old age "got the shock of their lives" with the huge numbers he has been drawing at events.

Concerns have been growing about Mugabe's weakening health. He has led Zimbabwe since 1980.

TRT World's Nafisa Latic has more.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies