President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe on Friday began a series of interactive meetings with the ruling Zanu-PF’s youths ahead of the 2018 elections in which he has been endorsed as the party’s presidential candidate.
The first meeting to be held in the Mashonaland East provincial capital Marondera, about 80 km south of Harare, is expected to draw thousands of youths from the province and beyond as the party deals with factionalism that has gripped it over a possible successor to an ageing Mugabe.
Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa is alleged to be leading a faction angling for Mugabe’s position, an allegation he has vehemently denied over the years.
Another faction purportedly supported by Mugabe’s wife Grace has openly opposed Mnangagwa’s “successionist” agenda and says the matter of who should take over is still premature because Mugabe. 93, is still in office.
He may still have another five years in office after the 2018 elections.
The party’s secretary for youths, Kudzai Chipanga was quoted by The Herald newspaper on Friday warning people with agendas other than Mugabe’s interaction with the youths to stay away.
“We are not going to tolerate a situation whereby people try to settle personal scores at our meeting.
“If there is anyone who feels they have some scores to settle, they might create their own forum,” he said.
Mugabe will travel to all the country’s administrative provinces during his interaction with the youths, who are now seen as the party’s trump card in winning elections following a fallout between Mugabe and a section of the veterans of the war of independence.