THE Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and other state security agents are reportedly disrupting presidential election candidate Simba Makoniâ€™s campaign ahead of its launch tomorrow in the opposition stronghold of Bulawayo.
This comes as uncertainty mounts over the availability of Makoniâ€™s key Zanu PF and opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) faction allies for his Bulawayo and Harare rallies at the weekend. This has cast a shadow over Makoniâ€™s rallies, especially the first one at White City Stadium in Bulawayo on Saturday afternoon which he needs to be well-attended to establish his credentials as a serious contender. It is equally important for his second gathering on Sunday at Zimbabwe Grounds in Harare to be well-attended. Altogether Makoni is due to hold 80 rallies countrywide. Yesterday he toured Nyamapanda where he got a rapturous welcome.
Sources said the CIO were disrupting Makoniâ€™s preparations to undermine his campaign which they fear might trigger a tidal wave of support in his favour. They said the state security agents had blocked the supply of paper for the printing of posters and flyers, as well as other promotional material from Harare-based company, Paroan Vista. The sources said CIO agents had told the firm to stop or delay the printing of material which is now a week behind schedule.
They said this recently led to a fierce clash between a senior Makoni camp official Ibbo Mandaza and a top manager at the company. Mandaza is said to have telephoned the company in connection with the material but was told that nothing would be released because of problems related to payment. The Makoni group is understood to have paid R270 000 for the material to Paroan via a South African bank but the company rejected a transaction slip and vowed not to release the material until other forms of payment were made.
Makoniâ€™s camp is said to have made payment in South Africa because it did not have enough Zimbabwean dollars, but had foreign currency mobilised from locals living outside the country.
After the problem between Makoniâ€™s camp and Paroan, it is said the firm, in which Indian businessmen have an interest, went on to report the issue to the Indian embassy in Harare. ParoanÂ managers could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The sources said what suggested the CIO were behind the disruption was a transcript of the altercation between Mandaza and the Paroan manager that was provided to the Makoni camp by their state security contacts this week.
The sources said the transcript is a correct record of events surrounding the stand-off between the Makoniâ€™s group and the company.
It is understood that most of the gatherings that the Makoni camp holds at Mandazaâ€™s Sapes Trust offices in Belgravia were recorded by CIO, including last weekâ€™s critical election strategy meeting which was chaired by acting coordinating committee chair Mike Mataure, a former Zanu PF MP.
Mataure chaired the meeting, not Mike Madiro, ex-Zanu PF Manicaland provincial chair, as we reported last week. The committee is now going to be chaired by former Industry and Trade minister Nkosana Moyo who returned to the country last week.Â
Asked for comment yesterday on CIO interference, Mandaza said: â€œThere has been enormous disruption of our plans by the state.â€
The police however refused to provide Makoni with security, saying he was not a VIP. The Makoni camp also claims to have uncovered a plot to subject their leader to a systematic smear and name-calling campaign by the state agents through false media stories and disinformation.
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â€œThey are trying all sorts of dirty tricks against us,â€ a senior member of the Makoni group said. â€œThey are almost succeeding, as shown by the Paroan fiasco, in disrupting our campaign.â€ However, Makoni said this week he would win 70% of the vote.
To make matters worse, the state appears to be managing to instill fear in Zanu PF to discourage them from supporting Makoni. If Zanu PF and MDC gladiators backing Makoni fail to show up at his rallies this could undermine his ability to eclipse his two main rivals in the race, President Robert Mugabe and MDC faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
There were doubts about whether Makoniâ€™s reported Zanu PF allies, who include retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru and former Home Affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa, would appear.
Mujuru and others such as his wife Joice, Vice-President Joseph Msika, party chair John Nkomo and politburo member retired army commander General Vitalis Zvinavashe, who reportedly sympathise with Makoni, were not expected to attend his rallies in Bulawayo and Harare.
In fact, all of them, including Mujuru and Dabengwa, are expected to attend Mugabeâ€™s campaign launch today in Harare.
Zanu PF politburo member Joshua Malinga, who was thought to be on Makoniâ€™s side, said he would not attend because he had nothing to do with the former minister.
â€œIâ€™m not part of the Makoni project because Iâ€™m a member of Zanu PF. My interests and constituencies are very clear,â€ he said.
Retired Major Mbudzi, who directs operations in the Makoni camp, said the rallies were going ahead as planned. He however could not say whether Zanu PF and MDC officials backing Makoni would be there.
â€œI donâ€™t know whether they will be there but everybody is welcome. If they support Makoni they will come,â€ he said.Â
â€œAll that we need is support, it doesnâ€™tÂ matter whether the people will come from the mountains, seas or forests,â€ Mbudzi said.
Senior members of the MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara, who have an electoral pact with the former Finance ministerâ€™s camp, would also not attend Makoniâ€™s rallies because they have their own rally at White City stadium on Sunday.
Sources said the problem in Bulawayo was that there were divisions between Dabengwaâ€™s group supporting Makoni, which include politicians like Themba Dlodlo and Joshua Mhambi, and the Mutambara faction over the Makoni rally.
After that it was decided Makoni would launch in Masvingo on March 2, but the problem was that Mugabe was expected be in the town on March 1. It was then felt it would not be a good idea to trail him in his campaign.
It is also understood there were problems about what happens if Makoni wins. Dabengwa and his group wanted a clear-cut deal while the Mutambara camp wanted unequivocal assurances.
After Masvingo was ruled out as the launch place, Harare was suggested before they settled on Bulawayo again. Differences on election strategy and positions are said to have created tensions in the Makoni camp.
This has been compounded by last weekendâ€™s failure of the Makoni group to meet Tsvangirai to discuss a possible electoral pact. Tsvangirai, who has described Makoni as â€œnew wine in an old bottleâ€, cancelled the meeting.
There was a telephone clash last week between Mandaza and the Tsvangirai factionâ€™s secretary for elections Ian Makone after the former had called to confirm the meeting.
Makone allegedly said Tsvangirai was not interested in meeting Makoni. The MDC said it would be easier for Makoni to fly to the moon than meet Tsvangirai in the present circumstances.– Dumisani Muleya