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I’m still Zanu PF: Makoni

FORMER Finance minister Simba Makoni  yesterday said he was still a Zanu PF member amid reports that the ruling party was on the verge of a major split.

Addressing a media conference in the capital yesterday, Makoni dismisse

d assertions by Zanu PF legal secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa and commissar Elliot Manyika that he had expelled himself from the party by declaring himself a presidential candidate on Tuesday.

“I plan to continue my functions as a member of the party until I am excluded by the due (disciplinary) process,” he said.

Makoni said there was no provision in the Zanu PF constitution allowing for self-expulsion.

“I ask you to take the constitution for your sake, myself and the legal secretary to find any provision or section which provides for self-expulsion,” Makoni said. “I have even looked at the national disciplinary provisions and I have not seen any provision of self-expulsion.”

He said in the event that he was expelled after following the correct procedure, he would stand as an independent candidate and hoped colleagues he was working with in Zanu PF would follow suit.

“If due process is followed and I am disabled from representing my party, I will stand as an independent,” Makoni said. “I have deeper faith in my country than in my party.”

Makoni was however evasive on how he would earn the Zanu PF candidacy since the party had endorsed President Robert Mugabe at its extraordinary congress last December.

The former Sadc executive secretary said Zimbabweans should wait until nomination day on February 15.

He denied that he was being used by the West to challenge Mugabe, whom he accused of failing to handle a diversity of views and ideas.

“Any different ideas (are) regarded as antagonistic and foreign,” Makoni said. “It’s typical of the leadership of the country which has always failed to accept a diversity of opinion.”

On allegations that he was being used by Zanu PF to divide the opposition, Makoni said: “I declare here that I am genuine, I am honest, I am nobody’s tool or agent. I am Simba Makoni, have always been, and will forever be the same Simba Makoni. Ini handishandiswe nevanhu (I am not a puppet).”

Makoni urged people yearning for “genuine” renewal and improvement of Zimbabwe to participate in the March 29 harmonised elections.

“But let me also encourage those others in Zanu PF who have been, and still are, working with us in this project for national renewal, to remain steadfast and not be intimidated. I hope the timing of a March election in 2008 is propitious against the background of a March election in 1980.”

Makoni was also evasive on whether he was working with opposition parties, but indicated that he had received assurances of support from all spheres of society including, the opposition.

Sources close to Makoni said he would soon unveil his plan to shore up his dramatic bid for the presidency which has shaken the political landscape.

The plan will include the name of the party — touted as the Patriotic Front — its symbol, manifesto, and details of the post-election set-up he would put in place. He would also disclose the names of his supporters, the sources said.

The party’s core would be reform-minded officials from Zanu PF. The outfit would then recruit members from existing political and civil society formations. After the elections, if Makoni wins, the party would form a government of national unity.

It would call for a congress to elect a proper leadership and work on issues which need to be addressed urgently. It is understood that the new party would also introduce a new constitution via a national referendum.

“The Makoni group is examining many issues and possibilities,” a source said. “It is thinking of formally launching a party to reconfigure the political landscape and as part of national renewal, holding a congress after elections, introducing a new constitution via a referendum, reasserting the unity accord between Zanu and Zapu and forming a government of national unity.”

The sources said after the postponement of the nomination date to Friday next week, Makoni’s group was contemplating fielding candidates in practically all constituencies. This suggestion was tabled on Wednesday after it became clear that Makoni would need an organised force behind him to present a strong challenge to Mugabe.

Meanwhile, ruling party sources said Makoni has the backing of Zanu PF bigwigs, service chiefs and state security personnel.

Makoni is also reportedly being supported by both vice-presidents, Joseph Msika and Joice Mujuru, and national chairman John Nkomo who allegedly argued that Mugabe was unprocedurally endorsed as the party’s presidential candidate.

Also reportedly in Makoni’s corner are politburo members Solomon Mujuru, Dumiso Dabengwa, Vitalis Zvinavashe, Sydney Sekeramayi, Oppah Muchinguri and Saviour Kasukuwere. — Staff Writers.

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