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Thursday 28 August 2014

Picture perfect Mugabe enjoys 80s revival

Aislinn Laing Johannesburg

Published 24/07/2013 | 05:00

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President Robert Mugabe's party is using images of its leader from 1980 on posters for Zimbabwe's election because it is concerned that his age has made him a liability, rivals claim.

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Opposition politicians have raised concerns that at 89, Mr Mugabe's age is an issue of national security. If he were to die in office, Zimbabweans fear that a power struggle could destabilise the country.

Nelson Chamisa, organising secretary of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said Zanu-PF's use of the 33-year-old pictures from when Mr Mugabe first took office showed a "loss of confidence" in the ageing leader.

"Even if you go to get an identification card they won't ask for your picture of years ago, they want the current picture," Mr Chamisa told party supporters at a rally.

"If one uses his picture of 1980... this is fraud and a show of loss of confidence."

He said that Zanu-PF was also wary of Mr Mugabe's recent record in power, including land seizures, economic collapse and widespread poverty and hunger, and preferred to remind voters of his time as a freedom fighter.

"They are in love with the Mugabe of the 1980s but not the Mugabe of today," he said. "I don't think they want to be associated with the Mugabe of today."

VOTE-RIGGING

His comments come just a week before Zimbabwe goes to the polls to decide which party will rule the country for the next five years, amid claims of skulduggery and vote-rigging.

Mr Mugabe turns 90 in February, making him the world's oldest political leader. He is known to have suffered from prostate cancer and there has been concern about frequent trips to Singapore, reportedly for medical treatment.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of a wing of the MDC and prime minister of Zimbabwe's coalition government since 2008, recently said: "We can't trust our future in the hands of a 90-year-old president. His age is a national security issue and everyone has seen it that clearly he needs to rest."

No one from Zanu PF or Mr Mugabe's office could be reached for comment. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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