In what looks like a readiness for Zimbabwe 2018 election, President, Robert Mugabe has promised to give more land to the country’s former freedom fighters, telling those who have not yet benefited from his land programme to ‘indicate’ which farms they prefer.
As Zimbabwe’s polls are tentatively due in July 2018, reports from Zimbabwe has it that the Mugabe who has been the country’s democratic president since 1987 having previously governed as its Prime Minister from 1980 to 1987, has begun his ‘usual’ swift move to the election result as he begins to grease to palms of well-known political Juggernauts in the country first by promising them lands they desire.
Not minding his age and feeble state, the oldest sitting president said war collaborators, former political detainees and restrictees would also benefit from his land programme.
Mugabe had this year announced his decision to go for the fifth time as Zimbabwe’s president, saying it was the choice of the ruling Zanu-PF who see no viable alternative candidate to run the race next year.
“They want me to stand for Zimbabwe 2018 election, they want me to stand for elections everywhere in the party … The majority of the people feel that there is no replacement, successor who to them is acceptable, as acceptable as I am,” he said in comments to state media ahead of his 93rd birthday this coming week.
“The people, you know, would want to judge everyone else on the basis of President Mugabe as the criteria,” Mugabe, who is Africa’s oldest leader, Mugabe was reported saying by the state’s media.
When his health status was put forward, the leader said: “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”
Critics believe that faces his most defining moment next year, as his party is ravaged by factionalism over uncertainty on who will succeed him and as citizens are seemingly fed-up with the country’s unimproved political and economic state.
News24 reported that as a way of seeking favour from the country’s war veterans Mugabe’s ministry in charge of the freedom fighters wrote a notice alerting them he is addressing their grievances which include parcelling out farms at provinces of their choice for those who have not benefited from his controversial land redistribution programme.
“During their epic meetings with His Excellency the President, veterans generally complained of being dispossessed of their allocated lands, be they agricultural, urban or peri-urban, under various unjustifiable pretexts,” reads part of the notice to the veterans dispatched on 11 March 2017 by Tshinga Dube, the Minster responsible for war veterans.
“Some have initiated housing co-operatives which are seriously under attack from various cunning land barons. Due to the above circumstances, the veterans of the liberation struggle have pleaded with His Excellency to intervene at the highest level to stop the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlements or any other authorities involved in these dastardly activities from countenancing or approving such dispossession and displacements,” said the notice, calling on the veterans to approach the ministry for redress.
“Veterans of the liberation struggle who have not yet been allocated are urged to submit their names, indicating their provinces,” added Dube in the notice to the veterans.
Reacting to this new development, opposition parties and critics say these are part of Mugabe’s election sweeteners that would help him placate the veterans who have been his political backbone since the advent of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Politician and human rights lawyer David Coltart believes Mugabe maybe “activating” the war veterans ahead of the crunch polls in which he is likely to face a grand opposition coalition. Coltart says, however, that another possibility is that Mugabe is trying to head off Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s threat by ingratiating himself with war veterans.
“One of Mugabe’s biggest headaches, as he moves towards Zimbabwe 2018 election, is that the majority of war veterans no longer support his candidacy. He is desperate to rectify that – hence this advertisement,” says Coltart.
Political analyst Rick Mukonza who agreed to the comments by critics said Mugabe knew he has the odds stuck against him in the forthcoming Zimbabwe 2018 election.
“He knows the economic situation of the country continues to deteriorate and there is no solution in sight. Substantially, therefore, he has nothing to campaign with, the indigenization and land redistribution mantra has passed its sell-by date and people want food on the table,” he said, adding that Mugabe has lost some important and key allies such as the war vets
“As if that is not enough, there is the prospective coalition between Tsvangirai, Mujuru and others. All these militate against his victory in 2018,” said Mukonza.
Nevertheless, Mugabe registered his confidence that he would win the coming Zimbabwe 2018 election. He said he believes Zimbabweans love him and still want his services as the nation’s president despite his old age.