At the ready maturity of 93, Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s long-serving president, has offered himself as the possibility to lead his decision ZANU-PF party in races one year from now.
In control since independence from Britain in 1980, Mugabe would be 99 should he win the 2018 race and finish a five-year term. He has bragged that he will live – and administer – until the point when he is 100.
Age seems to be the only true opposition of this political commander.
His wife, Grace, a political power in her own right, has gone much further. Talking at a rally sorted out by ZANU-PF’s Youth League a year ago, the First Lady tended to her better half saying: “We need you to lead this nation even from your grave.”
Mugabe has always been respected and feared rather than loved. But his cabinet, stuffed with loyalists, relatives, and praise singers, is now outdoing itself in pushing his cult of personality into overdrive.
Behind the public scenes of loyalty and adulation is an intense power struggle, as Mugabe’s physical frailty becomes evident. Factions are looking for his endorsement in the battle underway over his succession.
His public stumbles (fodder for an irreverent social media) and frequent absences from the country for medical attention, are all the more concerning for party apparatchiks as there is no obvious heir apparent.
“Mugabe wants to die in office and is not interested in seeing his successor,” said Pedzisayi Ruhanya, the director of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute. “He is not a student of democratic processes.”
There are no dangers to his govern from outside the gathering. He is blamed for taking races (in spite of the fact that he orders bolster in the country ranges), brutalizing the electorate, and penetrating the positions of the restriction to sow perplexity.