PRESIDENTIAL hopeful Simba Makoni on Sunday accused Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe of buying votes ahead of the March 29 election and said intimidation would not stop his supporters voting.
Makoni took his election campaign to the working class surburb of Highfields in the capital, Harare.
"We know there are government employees who woke up to see huge sums of money in their accounts which did not appear on their pay slips," Makoni told a rally of about 3,000 people.
"We know there are civil servants who were embedded in (party) structures for campaigning to re-elect one party."
Millions of Zimbabweans hoping for an end to an economic crisis are expected to vote in the presidential, parliamentary and municipal polls described by Mugabe and his opponents as a landmark poll in the post-independence period.
Makoni is standing as an independent after being expelled from Zanu PF and President Mugabe also faces Morgan Tsvangirai, a long time rival from the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
"People will refuse to be intimidated. We will not accept intimidation to stop us from fighting for our freedom," said Makoni in a stadium in volatile Highfield township, where security forces have cracked down on dissent.
"With Simba Makoni a new Zimbabwe is born," read one placard.
Makoni is considered a reform-minded technocrat who has long been touted as a possible successor to President Mugabe.
"Why is it that the government claims that people are on their side?," he said, suggesting Zimbabweans were too scared to defy their leader.
Mugabe blames Western sanctions for daily hardships marked by the world's highest inflation rate of over 100,000 percent, high unemployment and food, fuel and foreign currency shortages.
He says Western powers working with the opposition have sabotaged the economy in retaliation for his policy of seizing white-owned commercial farms to resettle landless blacks.
Makoni said he would not give land back to whites if elected but would take action against Zimbabweans who took control of several farms.
TZG / Reuters
Donette Read Kruger • na Subject: HE IS OFFERING TO SERVE US INSTEAD! Mon, 03 Mar 2008 11:35:46 • When one has a deck of cards does one spread them all out on the table so everyone can see everything one has in hand? No, one keeps them close to their chest so that the opposition cannot take strategic steps and surprise one. And, what's more, he is opposed to any form of violence - this speaks volumes in itself!
Tembedza Nyakudya Chigovanyika • firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Really Fair Play? Sun, 02 Mar 2008 23:17:17 • Obviously, people have short memories. Has Simba Makoni and his apologists forgotten how Mugabe deals with his opponents? If Makoni is opposing Mugabe for real; why does he expect to be treated differently?
BE CAREFUL OF TREVOR NCUBE. He is the sponsor of Mutambara/MDC Faction; who knows?
FairPlay • email@example.com Subject: Rallies in Zim Sun, 02 Mar 2008 17:44:24 • Please if you have a bone to chew with Makoni just say so! Your report is a far cry of what basic journalism should be. Like the previous reader correctly pointed out, the article is inadquate as it doesn't shed light on the circumstances surrounding the attendance issue such as limited time given for the rally and the blocking of people from attending.
Rodgers Svovah • firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Makoni accusses Mugabe of buying votes Sun, 02 Mar 2008 17:17:47 • This report seems to be very far from the truth. Dr. Makoni's rally was disrupted by the police who blocked buses carrying supporters into Highfield. Nevertheless people still walked to the rally. The rally was attended by 7 000 people who came on foot after buses where turned back. It is very important to check facts before publishing to win faith of readers or simply to state that you are not quite in the clear by the time of going to press.
n/ • n/a Subject: n/a Sun, 02 Mar 2008 15:10:09 • This report is obviously inadequate since it does not mention the disruption of the rally by the police. The 3 000 people is also untrue. Please verify reports before publishing.
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