HARARE – Despite growing calls for him to step down in the wake of an unprecedented economic crisis characterised by cash shortages and his now visible frailties, President Robert Mugabe told his backers last week that he will soon launch his campaign for the 2018 presidential elections anytime from now.
Addressing the Zanu PF central committee meeting last week, Mugabe challenged the party members to warm-up for the 2018 election saying the current problems which include the cash crisis are “temporary”.
“…as we drift closer and closer to elections, we must take full stock of our structures ensuring that our people stay ready and mobilised.
“Above all, the party must be in the lead in addressing the needs of our people. The youth recently made known their expectations, the war veterans whose families must be supported.
“Cash shortages are being faced across the board by our people who cannot easily access their savings or earnings. You might have deposited money in the bank, you have savings in the bank, but there is no money. But this is a temporary problem which should be behind us soon, sooner rather than later,” the frail looking Mugabe said.
Many of Mugabe’s former party cadres have in the past described him as a man obsessed with power, adding that he is creating his own dynasty.
Being the only leader that Zimbabwe has known for the past 36 years, Mugabe is even bracing to contest the 2018 elections at 94 years old, despite having been accused of running down the economy, through policy inconsistency and the controversial land reform programme, which observers said was meant to prolong his hold on power.
However, during the central committee meeting, Mugabe promised that he will soon visit all the country’s provinces to make sure that the party is ready for the 2018 elections.
“Now we, at the headquarters, would want to see that achievement of so many people registered, so many people with membership cards also making their subscriptions.
“So, VaMphoko (Vice President Phelekezela) vanenge vakagaririra kuno. You can’t say you have a hundred thousand members when you registered two each one having a membership card.
“Where is the proof of subscription? So, we will have to have an auditing system. So, when I visit the provinces as I said I shall, that is also one aspect I will look at. At the province we should be sufficiently computerised.”
Mugabe dismissed the opposition parties grand coalition saying it will be just a grouping of failures.
“So, let us have parties which are genuinely in existence and not just mere assumptions. Let us not be put into sixes and sevens by the opposition which is writing nonsense all the time of my wife or People First.
“The likes of (People’s Democratic Party president Tendai ) Biti are claiming coalitions which are coalitions still in the air and never concretised…, but it doesn’t matter — all can come together, all of them bundled together.
“Zanu PF is saying group, in a matter in which we desire, we give you just one of these (showing clenched fist).
“I hope we are building that one huge fist which will settle firmly once again all the little party organisations. I hope our preparations will be a success today.”
For the past 36 years, Mugabe has been blamed for putting more energy into consolidating his grip on political power, leaving the economy burning.
He has been accused of being selfish at the expense of the general populace.
Despite a visibly-waning popularity, Mugabe maintains he is still loved by the people and that he will govern until “God says come”.
And if there is anything that he has managed to achieve since he took over power; it is to instil fear in citizens and the use of violence to cow and crush every pocket of resistance, opponents contend.
Amid these governing principles, Mugabe has been accused of stomping on people’s constitutional rights. However, as the growing injustices continue taking toll on the hapless citizens who have seen it all over the past years, they are now taking to the streets to register their disgruntlement.
Only recently, church leaders took to the streets to demonstrate against government’s national pledge, which compels children to salute the national flag and recite a pledge of patriotism.
The church leaders argued that the pledge is against their Christian beliefs and must be dropped immediately.
On the other hand, the National Railways of Zimbabwe workers, who have been going for months without salaries, have been demonstrating.
Many are resorting to social media to campaign against Mugabe and his government over its failures to bring meaningful change to people’s lives.