WAR veterans have declared that they want President Robert Mugabe to continue ruling the country even if he were to be confined to a wheelchair, arguing he does not “need to be an athlete to govern”, as the race to nominate the veteran ruler for the 2018 polls begins.
The influential group of former fighters at the weekend said they were preparing to nominate the 91-year-old leader as the ruling party’s candidate for the 2018 presidential elections.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’
Association (ZNLWVA) secretary-general Victor Matemadanda told NewsDay in an interview that Mugabe was “as fit as a fiddle” and ready to contest.
“As war veterans, this is what we want and we are not going to ask anyone. We are going to nominate him,” he declared.
Asked if at the age of 94 in 2018, Mugabe would still have the energy to run a gruelling election campaign, Matemadanda said they were not interested in a “roadrunner”, but someone who could lead.
“We are not looking for a roadrunner. We are not looking for the best athletes, but for a leader who has the best interests of his people at heart,” he said.
“We are looking for a leader who is level-headed and will support and protect his people. That is what we see in President Mugabe.
“He can rule from a (wheel) chair.”
Mugabe last week stumbled and nearly fell over backwards while attending the India-Africa Summit in the Indian capital, New Delhi.
His critics have been quick to point out that the ageing Mugabe was too old to continue as President and should resign as his health was failing him.
The event was beamed live on Indian television stations, but Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba described the failure to get over the small dais as “heroic”, while Indian media characterised the incident as “a touching moment”.
Early this year, while returning from an African Union summit in Ethiopia, Mugabe tumbled at Harare International Airport after addressing thousands of ruling party supporters, who had gone to congratulate him for assuming the chairmanship of the continental body.
But a resolute Matemadanda was quick to say Mugabe still had the energy to take him through to 2018 without any problems.
“He is a strong man and if we are lucky to be alive, you and I can bear witness to him being the Zanu PF candidate in that election,” the ZNLWVA leader said.