- A senior official of the ruling Zanu-PF party and former Finance Minister of Zimbabwe has been expelled from the party a day after he had announced to contest against President Mugabe in the 29 March polls.
Simba Makoni, an ex-ally of Mugabe, on Tuesday revealed his presidential ambition at a press conference. He pledged loyalty to the party, although he wants to run as an independent candidate. He also wants to un under Zanu-PF colours.
But the ruling party officials said Makoni had expelled himself from the party.
The party's Secretary for Legal Affairs and Minister of Housing, Emmerson Mnangagwa, disclosed Makoni's expulsion.
"From yesterday afternoon when he made the press conference, he left the party," Mnangagwa told state television. Mnangagwa said anybody who wants to run against the party has expelled him/herself.
Mugabe, 83, is seeking a sixth term in office in a joint presidential and legislative polls. His party confirmed his candidature during a conference in December.
But Makoni said his decision resulted after consultations with party members and activists throughout Zimbabwe. It was also a response to their attempts to change Zanu-PF leadership in December last year.
"I have accepted the call and hereby advise the people of Zimbabwe that I offer myself as a candidate for the office of President of Zimbabwe in the forthcoming elections," he told the press, disclosing that he had galvanised the support of several officials of the ruling party.
"I know I will not be in this campaign alone, there will be many of us, a great many of us in this campaign," the 58-year-old reformist technocrat said.
This is the first time that Mugabe has been internally challenged in over 20 years. President Mugabe ruled the southern African country since independence from Britain in 1980.
The opposition's failure to field in a single candidate in the polls has raised Mugabe's chances to win. The main opposition, Movement for Democratic Change could not unanimously agree on a single candidate.
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