Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe appealed at the weekend for youths to register in their numbers ahead of national elections next year.
Mr Mugabe’s ZANU-PF, which has relied more on the women’s vote, is targeting the youth vote to win next year’s polls.
“We are going towards the election date. Are our people registered as voters, all of them even those young ones who yesterday were 16, 17 years old and have become 18 and therefore now able to vote?” Mr Mugabe said while addressing his fourth provincial youth interface rally in Lupane, Matabeleland Province.
He tasked the party’s youth wing to ensure that all party youths were registered, including those in colleges and universities, local media reported Saturday.
“Our universities have lots of young people, we should not ignore them, approach them,” he said.
Mr Mugabe has been endorsed by his party as its presidential candidate for next year’s polls, when he will be 94.
His party, however, is riddled with intense factionalism as senior members vie to succeed him.
He praised the youths for shunning factionalism, saying they, together with the women’s wing, remained in support of his presidency.
“There is no back biting (among the party youths), no factions and they have no desire at the moment to be successors when the president is still there,” Mr Mugabe said.
Mr Mugabe berated the opposition MDC-T as a “zero” party that was bankrupt of policy programs to develop the country.
“People should look at what these so-called opposition parties really are. What are their proposals and programs for the nation?” he said.
Mr Mugabe is likely to square off with his perennial rival, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai in next year’s presidential polls.
Meanwhile, Mugabe condemned violence by his party supporters ahead of the election.
He said the party must not tolerate perpetrators of violence, warning that members should decisively deal and stop “those small groups in the name of ZANU-PF that were beating up people.”
“That is not our mode of operation. We should not allow those small groups to spoil our name. If you see them, hold them, kick them and give them the punishment they deserve and then call police afterwards,” Mr Mugabe said.