Mugabe wins party support for 2018 poll
December 17 2016 11:31 PM
Robert Mugabe speaks during the opening of a community information centre alongside the party’s annual conference in Masvingo yesterday.


Supporters of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe chanting “tongai, tongai baba” (rule, rule father) yesterday endorsed the 92-year-old leader for a 2018 election run.
The endorsement, which is likely to result in his 36-year rule being extended, was greeted with thunderous applause by thousands of party faithful attending the ruling 
ZANU-PF’s annual conference.
Mugabe accepted dressed in a green floral jacket bearing his own portrait and a map of Zimbabwe.
The veteran leader has held power since independence from British colonial rule in 1980 and has always avoided naming a successor or laying out plans to retire. 
He once joked that he would rule until he turned 100.
The conference, held in the southeastern town of Masvingo, voiced “its support to the president and first secretary comrade Robert Mugabe as the sole candidate for the forthcoming 2018 elections”, deputy secretary Eunice Sandi Moyo said.
The absence of a clear successor to Mugabe has sparked infighting including verbal exchanges on social media in recent weeks between factions angling for his position.
Accepting his endorsement, Mugabe called for unity among party supporters.
“We agreed that conflicts should end. Infighting should end. The party ideology should be followed,” he said.
Mugabe, who has been dogged by rumours of poor health and is usually animated during lengthy political addresses, spoke slowly during his short acceptance speech.
He stressed that discipline among party members should be maintained and that 
“leaders should be respected”.
“Let us be one. We are one family, the family of ZANU-PF bound together by the fact of understanding between its members,” he said.
Large portraits of a younger Mugabe hung around a huge marquee where the conference was held, with the majority of the around 9,000 delegates donning shirts emblazoned with their leader’s face.
“We want President Mugabe to rule forever and ever because of his clear leadership,” one elated delegate, Janet 
Mazviwanza, said.
Mugabe this year faced unprecedented calls for him to step down, including a series of rare public protests over his failure to turn the ailing economy around.

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