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Former Zimbabwe Finance Minister Discusses Possible Role in Run-off Vote


Zimbabwe's electoral commission says the run-off between President Robert Mugabe and challenger Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change will not be held within two weeks as required by law. Tsvangirai announced Saturday that he would take part in the run-off, saying the vote should be held by May 24th. But in remarks published by the state-owned "Sunday Mail" newspaper, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chief George Chiweshe said the commission would need more time to prepare for the run-off.

Former Zimbabwe finance minister Simba Makoni was the only independent presidential candidate and won about nine percent of the vote. Some analysts have suggested that if Tsvangirai is to defeat President Mugabe in the run-off, he would need the support of Makoni.

Makoni told VOA shortly before Tsvangirai announced his decision Saturday to contest the run-off vote that the results of the March 29 election showed that Zimbabweans want their leaders to work together.

“At the moment, we are working to avoid that the country have another election. We believe that the country cannot afford another election immediately. But if our efforts fail and a run-off is deemed inevitable, we will then make up our position regarding the participation in the run-off, taking account of the circumstances of that time and the stance of the parties to our proposition that the country should be saved another election under these circumstances,” he said.

Denford Magora, spokesman for Makoni told VOA back in March that Makoni did not join with Tsvangirai during the first round vote because of policy differences.

Makoni said he could work with Robert Mugabe, Arthur Mutambara or Tsvangirai in the interest of patriotism.

“If you had followed our position right from the time when I announced my candidacy, we do not accentuate negatives. We move by positives. Morgan Tsvangirai is a Zimbabwean patriot and national, so as President Robert Mugabe and Arthur Mutambara and the other participants in this election. And we believe that we can work together as compatriots and patriots. And that is what we are investing our energy and our resources in working for,” he Makoni said.

He reiterated that the differences that separated him from other presidential candidates in the first round should not bar them from working together.

“The fact that there were four presidential contestants means that we all represent different positions or offer different positions. But I am saying that that fact by itself does not bar us from working together for the greater national interest. And so we are not looking for barriers to cooperation, we are looking for those common that enable us to work together for the good of our people,” he said.

On the violence that has rocked Zimbabwe since the first round election on March 29, Makoni called on Zimbabwe youths who he said are at the forefront of the violence to not kill or die for Mugabe, Tsvangirai or he Makoni himself.

“I want to premise my remarks on this matter by recalling my opening statement to this election campaign. I suggested at that time that no one was worth dying for. In fact the sentence read something like no one is worth dying for, not Morgan Tsvangirai, not President Mugabe, not Simba Makoni definitely. And no one is worth killing for not Morgan Tsvangirai, not President Mugabe, not Simba Makoni definitely. I maintain that position, and my appeal to Zimbabweans, especially Zimbabwean youths who are at the forefront of this occurring of violence and intimidation, please don’t kill for any of us. It’s not worth it. The life of every Zimbabwean is valuable; it’s sacred, and we should do everything to protect and defend it,” Makoni said.

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