Zanu-PF leader and Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Picture: REUTERS
Zanu-PF leader and Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Picture: REUTERS

Harare — Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party officially kicked off its election campaign on Friday with the launch of its election manifesto, themed "unite, fight corruption, develop, re-engage, create jobs", at a hotel in Harare.

The launch was attended by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga, among other senior officials in Zanu-PF.

In his address, Mnangagwa said, "We launch the 2018 people’s manifesto and there is no other party that can put Zimbabwe in good hands as Zanu-PF. This manifesto will guide us and the next government, and the launch marks the beginning of honest, people-centred hard work — and is not an end in itself, but the start of delivering to the expectation of our people, both in and outside of Zimbabwe."

The launch gave the strongest indication that the country has inched closer to holding elections in July in which Mnangagwa will stand as the Zanu-PF presidential candidate. About 117 registered political parties are interested in contesting the elections, according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

Mnangagwa has given the green-light for observers from the West to monitor this year’s election, with about 40 foreign countries expected to observe the polls, the first to be held after the fall of Robert Mugabe last year.

"This launch of our party manifesto is a precursor of canvassing for support to win the elections. It can only be ours to lose," Chiwenga said in an address to party delegates, drawn from its 10 provinces, which also were in attendance at the launch.

The launch came after a tumultuous week for the ruling party, which, on Thursday, saw party supporters demonstrate outside the party headquarters over disputed election results from primary elections held on Monday.

The demonstration came after one of Mnangagwa’s key allies in the succession race‚ Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association spokesperson Douglas Mahiya‚ claimed the president’s nephew was being imposed as a candidate in Harare South to block his ascendance.

Supporters threatened to do a "bhora musango" in this year’s election, a term associated with the 2008 phenomenon of a protest vote, which led to the defeat of the former ruler Robert Mugabe in the first round of voting in the 2008 elections; he lost to the late Morgan Tsvangirai.

Simon Khaya Moyo, the party spokesperson, said the official launch of its election campaign was an important day on the calendar of Zanu-PF.

"It marks the beginning of our destiny towards retaining power," he said. "The regalia items include, wrappers, scarfs and T-shirts, and the manifesto, which has been translated into four vernacular languages. These regalia items will be distributed to all provinces at cell level — Zanu-PF is a winning party."