Makoni ‘allies’ to attend Zanu PF launch

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ZANU PF heavyweights linked to independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni, among them Solomon Mujuru and Dumiso Dabengwa, are today expected to attend the ruling party’s 2008 election campaign launch in the capital.

                                                                                                                     
This comes on the eve of Makoni’s campaign launch in Bulawayo where Dabengwa was expected to ditch Zanu PF and back the former Finance minister who will square up with President Robert Mugabe, the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai and little-known Langton Towungana.

Mujuru and other allies were expected to attend the Makoni launch on Saturday at White City Stadium and a Zimbabwe Grounds rally in Harare the following day.

Impeccable sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that Dabengwa initially wanted to contest the presidential election, but later stepped down to back Makoni after he announced his plans on February 5.

Mujuru and Dabengwa are reportedly opposed to Mugabe’s continued stay in power and have since March last year been challenging him on many issues in the politburo.

The two were also irked after Mugabe roped war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda into his corner to spearhead his campaign for endorsement as Zanu PF’s presidential candidate at the party’s extraordinary congress in December.

Zanu PF bigwigs, among them Vice-President Joseph Msika, party chairman John Nkomo and politburo member Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, opposed Sibanda’s activities, and accused him of challenging former Zapu leaders.

The sources said apart from Mujuru and Dabengwa, Makoni enjoys the support of over half of the politburo members, who are reportedly working behind the scenes to mobilise support for the former Zanu PF deputy secretary for finance.

“It will be interesting to see whether or not Mujuru and Dabengwa, among other party bigwigs, will attend Makoni’s weekend rallies after President Mugabe’s campaign launch,” one of the sources said.

Yesterday, Dabengwa declined to confirm or deny that he will attend the Zanu PF election campaign launch.

“Why are you asking me if I am attending the launch when I have been attending other party meetings?” Dabengwa said. “What is so special about the meeting you are referring to?”

The former Zapu intelligence supremo also declined to answer questions related to the Makoni project.

“I will not answer questions from you,” he said curtly.

Meanwhile, Mugabe will today launch Zanu PF’s campaign at the Harare International Conference Centre where he will unveil the party’s manifesto.

The manifesto was supposed to have been unveiled on February 15 followed by a string of star rallies throughout the country for 14 days.

The campaign will now run under the theme: “Defending our land and national sovereignty; building prosperity through empowerment.” –Constantine Chimakure

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