Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

A thin line between fact-checking and propaganda in Gaza social media coverage

Read more

DEBATE

Gaza: How to Stop the Spiral? Israel Readies For Ground Offensive (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Gaza: How to Stop the Spiral? Israel Readies For Ground Offensive

Read more

FOCUS

Ireland's missing babies casting light on a dark history...

Read more

WEB NEWS

World Cup 2014: Germany-Brazil inspires the Web

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Boutros-Ghali: 'I wanted to reform the UN'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

57 000 little problems

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

The Sarkozy 'threat'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Budget challenge for India's new government

Read more

  • Hamas rockets reaching deeper into Israel

    Read more

  • French companies will have to accept anonymous CVs

    Read more

  • Ukrainian forces close in on Donetsk

    Read more

  • Germany asks US intelligence station chief to leave country

    Read more

  • Death toll rises in Gaza as militants target Israeli cities

    Read more

  • UN chief Ban Ki-moon appoints new Syria mediator

    Read more

  • Video: Muslims in China confront obstacles to Ramadan fasting

    Read more

  • Tour de France passes WWI Chemin des Dames battlefield

    Read more

  • Senegalese man awarded French visa in gay marriage debate

    Read more

  • Israel steps up airstrikes as diplomacy gets under way

    Read more

  • Argentina beat Netherlands on penalties to reach World Cup final

    Read more

  • Foiled French jihadist ‘targeted Louvre and Eiffel Tower’

    Read more

  • Obama in Texas to urge congressional action on child migrant crisis

    Read more

  • Iraq’s heritage 'in danger' from ISIS militants

    Read more

  • 100 years on, the Tour de France returns to the Western Front

    Read more

Makoni to challenge Mugabe

©

Latest update : 2008-03-28

Simba Makoni, a former finance minister, announced Feb. 5 he would run for president next month in the biggest challenge to Robert Mugabe from within his party in 20 years. (Report: C.Dumay)

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's hopes of cruising to victory at polls next month suffered a severe jolt Tuesday as his respected former finance minister Simba Makoni announced his candidacy.
  
Makoni, a member of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party, said he would take on Mugabe at the ballot box as an independent in a move analysts said could unite the president's opponents.
  
"Following very extensive and intensive consultations with party members and activists countrywide and also with others outside the party, I have accepted the call and hereby advise the people of Zimbabwe that I offer myself as candidate for the office of president," Makoni told a press conference.
  
"Let me confirm that I share the agony and anguish of all citizens over the extreme hardships that we all have endured for nearly 10 years now," added Makoni who was Mugabe's finance minister from 2000-2003.
  
"I also share the widely held view that these hardships are a result of failure of national leadership and that change at that level is a pre-requisite for change at other levels of national endeavour."
  
Mugabe, who has ruled the former British colony since independence in 1980, is hoping to secure a sixth term in office at joint parliamentary and presidential elections on March 29.
  
Since Makoni left office, Zimbabwe's economy has been in a dramatic downward spiral and it now has an annual inflation rate of more than 26,000 percent, the highest in the world. Unemployment also stands at around 80 percent.
  
But despite the economic woes, the opposition has been in disarray with the two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party unable to agree on a candidate to take on the soon-to-be 84 Mugabe.
  
Takavafira Zhou, an analyst at Zimbabwe's Masvingo State University, said Makoni would present a stiff challenge, especially if he could attract other disillusioned members of the establishment.
  
"He will pose a real challenge to Mugabe. For the first time Mugabe will have a hard time dealing with opposition from his own ranks," said Zhou.
  
"The move by Makoni could mean the demise of Mugabe, particularly if Makoni can get the support of the Mujurus and the army."
  
Vice President Joyce Mujuru and her husband Solomon Mujuru, a former head of the armed forces, have previously been touted as possible challengers to Mugabe but have been reluctant to break ranks and their stance is seen as critical.
  
The 57-year-old Makoni said he had hoped to have stood as ZANU-PF's official candidate but had been left with no alternative after the party congress endorsed Mugabe at its conference in December.
  
George Katito, a Zimbabwe analyst at the Johannesburg-based South African Institute of International Affairs, said Makoni would face formidable hurdles.
  
"His challenge will breathe new life (into the contest) but whether it's a feasible platform is questionable considering the very strong political machine that Mugabe has run," said Katito.
  
Katito however said Makoni could expect to win over voters who were "disillusioned with the MDC" and saw him as a more credible alternative.
  
Mugabe won the last presidential elections in 2002 in a contest against the MDC's main leader Morgan Tsvangirai but the result was disputed by Western governments which subsequently imposed a package of sanctions.
  
A spokesman for Tsvangirai's faction welcomed the prospect of Makoni running for president while refusing to say whether the MDC would step aside.
  
"A weak and limping ZANU-PF is good news for the opposition and this is most welcome," Nelson Chamisa told AFP.
  
The MDC splinter group led by Tsvangirai's rival Arthur Mutambara also welcomed Makoni's announcement.
  
"We welcome anyone who is willing to fight poverty, hunger and the dictatorship of Robert Mugabe's government," said Gabriel Chaibva.

Date created : 2008-02-05

Comments

COMMENT(S)