PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday vowed to stay in office another five years, complete his seventh presidential term at age 95, if he wins yesterday’s elections.
Report by Brian Chitemba
There has been growing speculation over Mugabe’s capacity to complete his term given his advanced age and health problems.
If he wins another term, it means Mugabe plans to rule until he is 95 years old, making him the oldest President in Africa. Mugabe has been in power since independence in 1980.
Mugabe, who was accompanied by his wife Grace and children — Bona, Robert Junior and Chatunga — told journalists after casting his vote around midday at Mhofu Primary School in Highfield that he would not have contested the elections if he planned to resign afterwards.
“I am going to serve the whole term. Why should I put myself as a candidate if I were to resign?” he said.
Mugabe’s ill health has sparked serious infighting in Zanu PF from two rival camps reportedly led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who are battling to succeed him.
Zanu PF insiders had speculated that Mugabe, 89, was likely to step down and hand over power to one of his lieutenants since the new governance charter provided that the sitting President’s party chooses a successor in the event of the incumbent being incapacitated or dying in office.
But Mugabe’s old age and ill health, which has seen him visiting the Far East to seek specialist treatment for suspected cancer which has reportedly spread to other parts of the body, may force him to step down.
The aged leader said the elections were free and fair considering the peaceful environment that prevailed during the campaigning and voting process.
“People are voting freely and fairly. There is no one who is being pressured to vote. I haven’t got updates on what is happening in most parts of the country, but it’s a peaceful election,” Mugabe said.
If elected for another term, Mugabe said he would prioritise the mining and agriculture sectors to boost the economy.
He described his four-year relationship with the MDC formations in the shaky inclusive government as a good experience of sharing power.