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Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party faces defeat in 2018 polls because many of its members still support ousted president, Robert Mugabe, his nephew has claimed.

Patrick Zhuwao, writing in an opinion editorial published over the weekend, said “coup conspirators” and “terrorists” had wrested power from Mugabe, who represented the interests of the country’s majority – the youth.

“There is massive disgruntlement by members of Zanu-PF to the manner in which President Robert Gabriel Mugabe continues to be humiliated and ill-treated by the coup conspirators and terrorist junta,” Zhuwao wrote on the New Zimbabwe news website.

He claimed the new government “does not have the support of most of the Zanu-PF members and the generality of the Zimbabwean population”.

“Under conditions of free and fair elections, Zanu-PF will be thoroughly walloped and thumped at the 2018 elections,” he said.

Ethos of nationalistic empowerment

Zhuwao – who was part of a faction loyal to former first lady Grace Mugabe – said that before Mugabe was pressured into resigning on November 24 groups that included women, youths and traditional leaders, as well as entrepreneurs, farmers and students had been joining forces within the ruling party.

He said these groups had been brought together “on an ethos of nationalistic empowerment and generational renewal premised on the unassailable fact that 77% of Zimbabwe’s population is under the age of 35 years”.

“They will express their displeasure in the ballot box in 2018. I am one of them,” added the 50-year-old Zhuwao, who was in South Africa at the time of the takeover. It’s understood that he is still outside Zimbabwe.

Far from pursuing a vendetta against Mugabe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has promised to look after the soon-to-be-94-year-old during his retirement. His government recently published regulations stating privileges owing to former presidents. They include a huge personal staff of cooks, waiters, gardeners and security officers, two houses, a fleet of cars and four international trips per year.

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