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Makoni Spokesman Discusses Conditions for Supporting Tsvangirai in Likely Run-Off

Zimbabwe’s High Court Tuesday told the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to seek legal means to force the country’s electoral commission to announce the March 29 presidential election results. The MDC had gone to court to force the release of the results. But the electoral commission argued that the courts have no jurisdiction over when the commission can announce election results.

Meanwhile, President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party have called for a vote recount and a possible run-off election even before the March 29 presidential election results are made known.

One candidate who could play a key role in the event of a run-off is former finance minister Simba Makoni who came a distant third in the first round. Denford Magora is spokesman for Makoni. He told VOA the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has been acting illegally.

“The laws of this country say that five days after the close of polling, results should be announced publicly. That hasn’t happen, and it is a concern to everybody, including Dr. Makoni. The sooner people know where they stand, the better. We know that the ruling party at the moment is already claiming that we should go in a run-off because Morgan Tsvangirai did not get 50 percent or more. In the event of a run-off, it will be between President Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai,” he said.

Magora said in the event of a run-off election it would be highly unlikely that Makoni would back Robert Mugabe. At the same he said it was not a done deal that Makoni would support Tsvangira.

“You have to remember that Dr. Makoni came out of the ruling party and announced to the world that this country was in crisis because there was a failure of leadership within that party and within government. What that means basically is that current president Mugabe has failed to lead the country. That does not mean we will automatically throw our weight behind his opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai. There will obviously be issues to be looked at because Dr. Makoni did not join up with Morgan Tsvangirai for various reasons,” Magora said.

He said the differences between Makoni and Tsvangirai had to do with policies and their individual approaches to government.

“Some of these were highlighted in the newspaper that Dr. Makoni published on the eve of the voting day itself. They have to do with approaches to the economy, most importantly. In one of these articles he spoke about Morgan Tsvangirai’s promises that he was just basically going to subsidize this country out of trouble, giving free money to various entities within the country, setting up compensation funds left right and center. He strongly felt that that wasn’t the direction in which the country should go. Even if donor money was to be available right after the election, that money should channeled toward productive sectors of the economy as opposed to subsidies to supporters and people who may have suffered in the past,” he said.

Magora said Makoni would also like guarantees from Tsvangirai concerning Tsvangirai’s commitment to reform Zimbabwe’s current constitution

‘We would like to hear from the MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai specifically whether he is prepared as soon as possible within a very reasonable timeframe to put together a constitutional conference, making sure that there is input from all the key sectors in Zimbabwe into that constitution,” Magora said.

He would not say whether there were talks going on currently between Makoni and Tsvangirai regarding whether Makoni would support Tsvangirai in the event of a run-off election.

“I can’t say that there are discussions going on. If there are any talks, those talks are on the basis of defending whatever is left of democracy in Zimbabwe, which is very threatened at the moment by the government, the way it is behavior, the threats that it is issuing through the war veterans,” he said.

Magora rejected any suggestion that the failure of Makoni and the rest of the opposition to unite might have been responsible for any talk of a run-off election. He said Makoni and his supporters still believe Makoni is the best man to lead Zimbabwe.