HARARE – Langton Towungana avoids fierce attacks on Mugabe, but denies he is a stooge of the veteran leader.
He also laughs off rumours that Zanu (PF) helped him collect the signatures needed to lodge his papers as an independent candidate when the Nomination Court sat last month.
I used my own resources and didn’t take any from the President or from Zanu (PF) as you allege or anyone else, he said
Towungana, 41, said he was able to collect so many signatures because he had support across the nation. But he is not aiming to win.
I know that God will convince the democratic voters that I will protect the interests of the nation, but I would consider it my personal luck if I win, he said. I can’t call myself a politician as such. This is a calling from God and only Him can deliver this nation from this quagmire.
Towungana, who says he is a devout Christian, said Mugabe has done a lot to consolidate society but it was time for him to step aside for fresh ideas. He fancies himself as the Biblical Moses.
Towungana is little known in Zimbabwe.Softly spoken, he has a less stern and formal image than most Zimbabwean politicians.
Married to Emilia, Towungana did his primary and secondary education at St Peter’s in Nyazura and St Joseph’s in Rusape. He did A-Levels through correspondence and is also a holder of a diploma in Computer Science. He also has competency in surveying, retailing, milling and tourism. Towungana says he is an entrepreneur running enterprises in Jambezi and Victoria Falls, his home. He stays in the populous Mkhosana high density suburb in the tourist resort
He portrays himself as a Christian liberal and Western-leaning. He wants Zimbabwe to rejoin the community of nations and end the country’s isolation.
Political analysts say his main role in the election is to make sure the crucial election happens because by law, a presidential election must have at least two participants, and Mugabe was unsure if the MDC would contest the poll after earlier threats to boycott.
If the MDC had withdrawn their candidacies, then the election was not going to take place because Makoni had not made it very clear that he was contesting, hence the decision to have a standby candidate said political commentator Ronald Shumba.
For his part, Towungana is optimistic about Zimbabwe’s future, in marked contrast to other opposition politicians who bemoan what they say is the slow death of democracy under Mugabe.
"I am Not a Stooge."
By Langton Towungana
In Zimbabwe's presidential race, debates are absent, state media cover only the Zanu (PF) chosen candidate in depth and critics say the contest resembles a coronation of President Mugabe rather than an election. So it is surprising that one obscure independent candidate is getting favourable coverage on State media together with President Mugabe ahead of the other challengers.