Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s factionalised party is set to embark on nationwide presidential campaigns for the aged Zimbabwean leader who will face the stiffest challenge to his decades-long stranglehold on power.
Amid the divisions rattling the ruling party Zanu-PF, the nonagenarian leader, faces a strong coalition of opposition parties in the polls set for 2018.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (93), in power since independence from Britain in 1980, is again contesting on the Zanu-PF ticket after recently claiming none of the senior officials in his party was capable of leading the country.
This is despite his advanced age and subsequent health issues.
Several campaign rallies have been lined-up in four provinces, with Mugabe set to address these between April and May 2017.
The events have been organised in the country’s second largest city Bulawayo, Manicaland, Mashonaland West and Matabeleland North provinces to kickstart his campaign.
The Zanu-PF youth league is working with regional chairpersons to mobilise thousands to attend the rallies.
Human rights groups have reported residents were being forced to attend amid waning support of Mugabe and his party.
The party’s Manicaland youth league chairperson, Mubuso Chinguno, confirmed the rallies.
He said they had activated information and publicity, fundraising and organizing committees to prepare for the rally set for Mutare near the border with Mozambique.
“We want to show those in the party and outside, who claim that the President no longer has support, that they are wrong,” said Chinguno.
“This way, we are showing our solidarity with the president and quashing rumours about our allegiance.”
Elsewhere, allegiances have shifter with freedom fighters of the struggle that liberated Zimbabwe turning their backs on Mugabe and denouncing his nomination.
The war veterans and youth have in previous elections unleashed violence on the opposition to entrench Mugabe’s rule.