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Mugabe’s Challenger Says No to an Alliance With Opposition

Zimbabwe’s former finance minister who is challenging President Robert Mugabe in next month’s presidential election says he will not form a coalition with any opposition party. Simba Makoni, who was expelled from the ruling ZANU-PF party, said forming an alliance with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would alienate his support base in the ruling party. Makoni’s comment comes after the leader of one the opposition MDC factions declared his support for Makoni.

Some political analysts believe the lack of unity among opposition parties would give incumbent President Mugabe a victory in next month’s presidential election. John Makumbe is a political science professor at the University of Zimbabwe. From the capital, Harare he tells reporter Peter Clottey that Makoni’s decision not to enter into an alliance is a step in the right direction.

“I think the man is being clever, he is being cautious because I think he has considerable support with ZANU-PF itself. But I think a lot of that support is conditional on him not being seen to be forming alliances and coalitions with the opposition,” Makumbe pointed out.

He said it was unfortunate that people are speculating that Makoni’s determination to go it alone would give victory to incumbent President Mugabe on a silver platter.

“I think that is why it is important that he (Makoni) should insist that he is still a ZANU-PF (member) or that he is independent that he is expected to work with people from ZANU-PF. In other words, the only vote he is likely to split then is the ZANU-PF vote. And as things are now, we are aware that a lot of the support for Makoni is coming from within ZANU-PF. I know that MDC Tsvangirai (faction) is openly telling his people that to vote for Makoni is to really just to vote for ZANU-PF. And it’s unfortunate that Mutambara has openly stated that he is supporting Makoni, and Makoni has distanced himself from that for strategic reasons he doesn’t lose the support from within ZANU-PF,” he said.

Makumbe concurred that Makoni might not have what it takes to win the general elections slated for March 29.

“I think the best he (Makoni) can get is a number three. I think Robert Mugabe will still rig the election and win. But it’s very likely that the ZANU-PF vote would be so split that Mugabe himself will lose and we may see a run-off between Simba Makoni and Morgan Tsvangirai. That is if Tsvangirai doesn’t win outright. I suspect that Robert Mugabe is going to rig the election in such a way that even Morgan Tsvangirai will not make an outright win. But it is difficult at the moment to actually see how Simba Makoni could win against Robert Mugabe who would steal the election results,” he noted.