INDEPENDENT presidential hopeful Simba Makoniâ€™s campaign has suffered a major setback after retired army General Vitalis Zvinavashe and Zanu PF politburo member Dzikamai Mavhaire reportedly declined to come out to support his candidacy.
Zvinavashe, Mavhaire and other senior Zanu PF politburo members were believed to be backing the ex-Finance ministerâ€™s presidential bid and had been expected to abandon President Robert Mugabe.
Zvinavashe and Mavhaire were expected to attend Makoniâ€™s rally at Mucheke Stadium, Masvingo, last Saturday, but did not turn up amid reports they were no longer party to the former Sadc executive secretaryâ€™s ambitious project.
Impeccable sources in the Makoni campaign management committee told the Zimbabwe Independent that Zvinavashe and Mavhaire had washed their hands of the project to dislodge Mugabe from power in next weekâ€™s elections.
The sources said Makoni and his election mobilisation department head, retired army Major Kudzai Mbudzi, went twice to Zvinavasheâ€™s Tynwald home in Harare recently to find out when the Gutu Senator would quit Zanu PF and join them.
â€œZvinavashe refused to meet them,â€ one of the sources said. â€œHe has made it clear that he was no longer interested in Makoniâ€™s presidential ambitions even though he is of the opinion that Mugabe should not be the Zanu PF presidential candidate.â€
The source said Mbudzi approached Mavhaire in Masvingo and was told point blank that he was not interested in the Makoni plot.
â€œMavhaire was upset when approached by Mbudzi,â€ the source said. â€œHe told Mbudzi that he was bent on destroying his political career. He said he didnâ€™t want to hear anything to do with Makoni.â€
The sources said while Zvinavashe and Mavhaire â€” both Zanu PF politburo members â€” had snubbed Makoni, some bigwigs from the ruling party would come out insupport of Makoni.
Former Zipra intelligence supremo and ruling party politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa is the only Zanu PF bigwig who has come out in support of Makoni so far.
The sources said during the Makoni rally in Masvingo, Mujuru was represented by one of his confidants (name supplied).
The confidant, one of the sources said, had attended most of Makoniâ€™s meetings and rallies since the former finance minister announced his presidential ambitions on February 5.
â€œThe confidant briefs Mujuru on our meetings and rallies. We have been assuredÂ that the general (Mujuru) will go public soon,â€ the source ssaid.
Zvinavashe was among commanders drawn from both Zanla and Zipra forces, who met twice last March and resolved that Mugabe should leave office. Others were Mujuru, Youth minister Ambrose Mutinhiri, suspended Attorney General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele and Dabengwa.
Apart from the commanders, sources said, despite their denials and exhibition of allegiance to Mugabe, Vice-presidents Joice Mujuru and Joseph Msika and party chairperson John Nkomo maintained close links to Makoniâ€™s camp. Efforts to get comment from Mavhaire yesterday were unsuccessful as he was not reachable on his mobile phone, but Zvinavashe recently issued a statement slamming Makoni and Dabengwa for leaving the ruling party.
By Constantine Chimakure