Did Mujuru back Makoni or not?

When Simba Makoni announced his intention to stand for president in 2008, there was wide speculation that he was being backed by former army commander Solomon Mujuru. Now that Mujuru is late, this is a question Zimbabweans will never know.

Simba Makoni
Simba Makoni

According to a cable released by Wikileaks recently, even the United States embassy described Mujuru as one of Makoni's presumed backers, but added that Makoni's backers never came out publicly.

At the time it was felt that a Makoni-Morgan Tsvangirai united front would have an excellent chance of defeating Mugabe, but with no signs of such an alliance it was feared that Makoni and Tsvangirai could split the opposition vote.

The electorate read the situation differently.

Simba Makoni Speaks… Simba Makoni on February 13 2008 held a press conference and gave a diplomatic briefing.

He stated he would run as an independent candidate, sparking his immediate expulsion from Zanu PF, with Zanu PF leadership saying supporters from all parties were welcome to endorse Makoni as their leader.

But on the eave of his 62nd birthday commemorations last month, the Mavambo/ Kusile/ Dawn leader revealed he had support from Zanu PF bigwigs like the late decorated General Solomon Mujuru.

"I had worked for change from within the party during my time as a politburo member of Zanu PF, and of course worked with other disgruntled members of the party who included the late General Solomon Mujuru and Vitalis Zvinavashe and many others who were fade up with Mugabe's leadership,"

Makoni was quoted as saying on the eave of his 62nd birthday commemorations last month.

Short on specifics, Makoni said he offered reengagement and renewal in a polarized country riven by fear, disease, and poverty.

However, Makoni's presumed principal backers such as the late general Solomon Mujuru never came out publicly about their support for the MKD leader.

While most political observers believe a Makoni-Tsvangirai united front would have an excellent chance of defeating Mugabe, there are no signs at present of such an alliance, and the danger exists that Makoni and Tsvangirai could again split the opposition vote.

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