Robert Mugabe, the only president Zimbabwe has had in 36 years of independence, will contest in the country’s 2018 election, and, if he is re-elected, he will retire in 2023, at age 99. His ZanuPF party said so.
While addressing a group of war veterans at the weekend, the 92-year-old said: “As long as the party says continue, I continue…If I still have the energy, I still have the life, the blessings of God, I will continue.”
The Zimbabwean president has always stated that he would die in office. But he has now admitted that the country’s economy is crumbling and that he would retire.
The Southern African country’s currency is in poor shape and banks are running out of cash; the country is also feeling the pinch of a crippling drought.
Mugabe told “war collaborators” that he believed he had now “defeated the British and Americans and that he understood times were difficult in Zimbabwe.
He had dismissed demands by once stalwart war veteran supporters to quit, saying he was in power by popular vote and accusing critics of plotting his ouster with long-time Western opponents.
“There was a time, some years ago, when Zimbabwe seemed important that it could be a powerhouse in the region, but that moment has long gone, and now it is hard to find anyone who can forecast how it can repay its debts even with a new leadership, let alone attract foreign investment,” said a Harare-based financial analyst.
Mugabe also acknowledged that there were factions within ZanuPF but that they would come together ahead of the next elections.
Chances that the fractured opposition could win the next elections are “bleak”, according to analysts.