As Zimbabweans join their beloved president, Robert Mugabe to celebrate his 93rd year on earth, the leader insists he will contest 2018 elections despite his frail health.
Despite massive attacks on the $2.5-million planned to be lavished on Mugabe’s birthday celebration amid looming economic failures and famine, the ruling Zanu-PF party insists on giving their leader the usual birthday bash scheduled for Saturday at Matobo National Park outside Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second-largest city.
Opposition parties condemned the events as a waste of money while “93% of Zimbabweans are wallowing in poverty caused by his incompetence and misrule”, NewZimbabwe.com reported.
Not minding all oppositions, the world’s oldest political leader reminds Zimbabweans of his intention to remain in power until after death. He said his ruling ZANU-PF party and the people of Zimbabwe could see no viable successor to him for next year’s general elections when he will be 94.
Mugabe’s words to Zimbabweans brings to mind his wife, Grace Mugabe’s comment on Friday when she said Zimbabweans will still vote for him even if he dies before next year’s election.
During a rally of supports in Buhera, eastern Zimbabwe, Grace Mugabe said “If God decides to take him, then we would rather field him as a corpse.”
She also accused some of the ruling party Zanu-PF members of plotting to oust her husband, and said that if he dies, supporters should still put his name on the ballot to show their support.
“Anyone who was with Mugabe in 1980 has no right to tell him he is old. If you want Mugabe to go, then you leave together. You also have to leave. Then we take over because we were not there in 1980,” she said, pointing to herself.
In like manner, the president reportedly said during an interview aired on Monday, that the call for him to step down must come from his party. “They want me to stand for elections … If I feel that I can’t do it anymore, I will say so to my party so that they relieve me. But for now, I think I can’t say so,” he said.
“The majority of the people feel that there is no replacement, a successor who to them is acceptable.”
The 93-year-old has been in power since white minority rule ended in Zimbabwe in 1980 after years of war. His rule has however been criticized for repression of dissent, election rigging, and for causing the country’s economic collapse.
Despite growing calls to step aside, the 93-year-old Mugabe remains widely respected as a liberation hero by other African leaders. Interestingly, Zimbabweans – just in the rural areas – still support and idolize him.