Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is readying for the 2018 elections with party youths already making plans for him to roll out campaign rallies across the country’s ten provinces.

National political commissar in the ruling Zanu-PF youth league Innocent Hamandishe told members at a meeting on Tuesday that they should prepare for Mugabe’s rallies and that they must rally behind him as their only authentic leader.

Pelandaba Stadium in Gwanda has been earmarked for the Matabeleland South star rally whose date is yet to be announced, but indications are that it will be “soon”.

Zanu-PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo confirmed that the youths were organizing the rallies.

Mugabe, who turns 94 next year and is already the world’s oldest leader, will be contesting for another five-year term after his party Zanu-PF endorsed his candidature in 2014.

In an interview with state television on the eve of his birthday in February, he declared that he was ready to soldier on as head of state and government despite his old age and would only step down if the call came from his party.

However, that would not be any time soon as the party wanted him to stand as its candidate in the 2018 elections, he said.

“The majority of the people feel that there is no replacement — a successor who to them is acceptable, as acceptable as I am,” he said.

He said he would continue in office until his limbs failed him or if the party decided that his time was up.

The next elections are scheduled to be held on or before July 31 in line with the five-year tenure for the presidency, legislature and local authorities, and will come against a backdrop of resounding victories by his party in recent parliamentary by-elections.

Mugabe has led the country since independence from Britain in 1980 and his party won the subsequent elections in 1985 to keep him as Prime Minister until 1987, when he became Executive President following amendments to the pre-Independence constitution.

Since then, he won three six-year terms in 1990, 1996 and 2002, and another two five-year terms in 2008 and 2013 after he decided, as a cost-cutting measure, to have presidential elections held at the same five-year term limit with parliament and local authorities.

His bid to have his term extended to 2010 so that the presidential election would coincide with the legislative and local ones was rejected by his party.

So to have his way on the harmonized elections, he cut short the terms of parliament and local authorities by two years.

Opposition parties are also gearing up for the elections and have formed umbrella body the National Electoral Reforms Agenda to push for reforms before the elections are held.

Morgan Tsvangirai of MDC-T, who has been trying to dislodge Mugabe since 2002, will fight another battle again, this time hoping to be leading a coalition that may include Mugabe’s former deputy in both party and government Joice Mujuru. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh