- Title: ZIMBABWE: Presidential hopeful Simba Makoni begins bid to unseat Robert Mugabe
- Date: 1st March 2008
- Summary: (AD1) MASHONALAND EAST, ZIMBABWE (FEBRUARY 28, 2008) (REUTERS) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, SIMBA MAKONI WALKING VARIOUS OF MAKONI TALKING TO PEOPLE MAKONI SUPPORTERS PEOPLE LISTENING TO MAKONI (SOUNDBITE) (English) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, SIMBA MAKONI, SAYING: "The people are ready for this campaign and the people are ready for this election, the people are ready for a new beginning for our country. I am happy. I am humbled at the same time." CROWD GATHERED AROUND MAKONI (SOUNDBITE) (English) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, SIMBA MAKONI, SAYING: "My chances are, as I said at the beginning, overwhelming. We are going to have a landslide victory in this election." MAKONI ADDRESSING CROWD VARIOUS OF CROWD MOBBING MAKONI'S CAR MAKONI ADDRESSING PEOPLE MAN LISTENING CLOSE OF MAN HOLDING MAKONI FLYERS MAKONI WALKING PAST BAGS OF GRAIN
- Embargoed: 16th March 2008 12:00
- Location: Zimbabwe
- Country: Zimbabwe
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAQF0MBO7KOZWMP05BY7346E06
- Story Text: Dr. Simba Makoni, who is staging the strongest challenge that President Robert Mugabe has ever experienced from within his ruling ZANU-PF party, has hit the campaign trail.
In Mashonaland East, Makoni told his supporters that Zimbabwe was in desperate need of a change in leadership.
"The people are ready for this campaign and the people are ready for this election, the people are ready for a new beginning for our country," he said.
Makoni, a former finance minister, was expelled from President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party after registering to run as an independent in the March 29 presidential, parliamentary and council elections.
He is seen by some critics as an economic reformer and as a potential successor to Mugabe, but others call him a political lightweight without broad support. Makoni himself, is confident of victory.
"My chances are, as I said at the beginning, overwhelming. We are going to have a landslide victory in this election," he said.
Critics say Mugabe, who turns 84 this month, has maintained a tight grip on power through a combination of ruthless security crackdowns and an elaborate patronage system that rewards those loyal to his government.
Supporters revere him as an independence-era hero who fights for the rights of his people.
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, also registered as a presidential candidate. MDC failed to oust Mugabe in the country's last election.
Zimbabwe was once of Africa's most promising economies, but is now mired in a deep economic crisis marked by rising poverty, unemployment and chronic food and fuel shortages. Inflation is above 26,000 percent, the highest rate in the world.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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