Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was at the weekend endorsed by his Zanu PF party structures to stand for another term in elections he wants held soon after his 89th birth day next year.
The endorsement by six out the 10 provinces so far means the veteran ruler has all but been confirmed as the Zanu-PF presidential candidate for the March 2013 polls.
An annual party conference early next month is expected to endorse the nominations by provinces, which is usually a mere formality.
Vice-President Joice Mujuru who reportedly leads one of the two factions angling for President Mugabe’s position said she had no ambitions to take over from the octogenarian leader. “Those who claim to belong to my faction are lying because there is no faction to talk of,” she told Zanu-PF Harare provincial meeting that endorsed Zimbabwe’s long serving ruler.
“We must not put individual interests ahead of the party’s. I am President Mugabe’s runner-girl. I go to his people.”
Defence minister Emmerson Mnagwagwa who has been associated with the second faction in Zanu-PF was also forced to publicly rebut the allegations in October.
There were reports that some senior party leaders who believe that President Mr Mugabe is no longer a viable candidate given his advanced age and health problems will try to challenge his candidacy ahead of the Zanu-PF conference.
President Mugabe has led Zimbabwe since independence 32 years ago and has been at the helm of his Zanu-PF party since the 1960s.
Despite reports of growing factionalism in the party, he has managed to outwit his rivals and maintain a tight grip on the party.
On the eve of the last elections in 2008, a senior Zanu-PF official and former Finance minister Simba Makoni broke away from the party to challenge President Mugabe accusing him of stifling democracy.
Dr Makoni who now leads the Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn opposition party came third in the first round of the presidential elections behind President Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mr Tsvangirai who was an opposition leader at the time was forced to pull out of the presidential run-off poll three months later.