After calling for elections to be held in Zimbabwe next year, the country's long-time ruler, President Robert Mugabe, expressed confidence Thursday that his party can win because voters support his party's progressive economic ideas.

Mugabe, 87, won his party's support to remain in office at a Thursday conference aimed at choosing a nominee for the coming elections - elections to end a fragile 30-month coalition with the former opposition, a partnership Mugabe described as an impractical patch on torn trousers, The Associated Press reported.

In his opening speech at his ZANU-PF party's convention, Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since its independence in 1980, criticized Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's party, saying it was busy chasing women, a reference to widower Tsvangirai's break-up with a commodity broker who claimed he made her pregnant.

We think of our people ... we are busy taking care of our country, Mugabe said.

He addressed 6,000 delegates in the city of Bulawayo for 2 ½ hours Thursday. The convention ends Saturday.

While deep divisions over Mugabe's ability to remain in control and stop infighting have emerged among some members of his own party, many want him to remain in power to prevent the party from fracturing amid power struggles among his top lieutenants, The Wall Street Journal reported.  

Like any family, we have divisions here and there, said Didymus Mutasa, ZANU PF's chief of administration, at the sidelines of the conference.

President Mugabe, being our father and strongest man, has to remain at the top to ensure unity.

Mugabe is pushing for early elections in 2011, but his political rival Tsvangirai, who leads the Movement for Democratic Change, rebuffed his demands, with regional backing. Mugabe is also applying pressure on officials to implement an indigenization law, which would compel all foreign-owned firms to cede 51 percent of ownership to local blacks.

We will not reverse this policy, he said. For years now, even before I was born after this country was colonized, our resources, mining resources have been disappearing. Sure, we want partners, sure we want technology, but let the majority of the companies be our companies in total.