Simba Makoni, the former finance minister who defected from President Robert Mugabe's party to challenge him in presidential elections in March, refused on Thursday to say which candidate he would back in next month's presidential run-off.
Simba Makoni, the former finance minister who defected from President Robert Mugabe’s party to challenge him in presidential elections in March, refused on Thursday to say which candidate he would back in next month’s presidential run-off.
Makoni, who came a distant third in the first round of the presidential elections on March 29 with 8% of the ballot, against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s 48% and Mugabe’s 43%, is regarded as a key figure in the run-off on June 27 as his backing could be the deciding factor in the election.
The presidential race is between Mugabe and Tsvangirai after the latter failed to win more than 50% of the vote needed for him to be declared outright winner.
One of Mugabe’s longest-standing close aides, Makoni said: “We will determine the position of our movement at the time. If we have to suffer an election, we will take a clear stance.”
“The last thing our country and its people need is another election,” he said. “The country cannot afford another election at this time.
“The national fiscus cannot finance another election—indeed, could not finance the last one. The violence now gripping the country bodes ill for a free and fair election.”
He appealed to “all national leaders ... to construct a transitional dispensation and constitute a transitional authority that saves people from injury and death, restores the country to safety and security, stabilises our economy and prepares our country for reengagement with the international community.
“I am proposing a government of national unity that brings all leaders together,” he said.
Makoni said he deplored the wave of violence in Zimbabwe and said that “initially, these acts of violence were attributed to Zanu-PF activists. However, latterly, similar acts are also being attributed of MDC.”
Challenged by journalists to give examples of where MDC had carried out violence, Makoni refused to be drawn. “We are not about apportioning blame,” he said. “We are not going to indulge in counting numbers.”
Tsvangirai said this week that the number of fatalities against the MDC by Zanu-PF militias had risen to more than 50. Doctors, human rights agencies and churches dealing with thousands of injured in the aftermath of the March election say that all but a tiny minority of victims have named Zanu-PF supporters as the perpetrators. â€’ Sapa-DPA