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Gentleman or “stalking horse?”*

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I thought I never had any opinion of Dr Simba Makoni until I had the opportunity to watch an exclusive interview he gave to South Africa’s E.TV 3rd Degree show. Although I know a lot of Zimbabweans neither had privilege or opportunity to watch it, I know it would have really cleared the air for those who are not so sure whether to vote for him or not. I must say, that even after Debra Patta’s infamous 30 minutes of hard-hitting, straight-forward confrontation, I felt I knew Dr Makoni much less.

The man just wouldn’t be engaged, constantly evading questions with obscure answers and responses like, “Don’t put words into my mouth”. Or “You are best asking so-and-so that question,” etc. Asked what he thought of Morgan Tsvangirai for President he initially had nothing to say but later described him as a patriot who was simply standing up for what he believes in.

Asked what his opinion of Mugabe was – considering the history of Gukurahundi – and what he would do about him if he became President, Makoni retorted that he respected Mugabe as a leader and for what he achieved, and concerning the Gukurahundi atrocities, he would welcome some evidence concerning that matter. Hello? Was this guy on the moon? What a denialist and, how so deeply insulting. One must keep in mind that this guy is also ready to give Mugabe amnesty. He also claims to not have heard about the army chief saying they will not support or salute any other candidate save for Mugabe. Man …

Asked what he made of the criticism leveled against him and how he felt towards Mugabe for “leading Zimbabwe into its economic decline where inflation is soaring and people are starving”, he told the interviewer he felt “sad” for Mugabe and had no ill feelings towards him. Not that one expected him to engage in the diatribe of mudslinging and name calling now characteristic of Zanu PF, but eish, his complacency really smacks of a boot licker with so much Zanu PF blood running thick in him. Or probably he is just a true gentleman. Go figure.

Here are some of the questions that kept burning in my head after the show – why does this guy sound so apologetic? Why is he so prepared to grant amnesty to President Mugabe? And for crying in a bucket, what does he mean when he says he doesn’t stand against Mugabe but rather, stands for something else? What is the difference anyway?

Many people have, from the beginning, been convinced that Makoni was just a ‘stalking horse’ for Mugabe. Many hypotheses and theories around his candidature have been flying around. Above all, it is undeniable that voter registration did increase significantly following his announcement. But if this guy is raising the hopes of many Zimbabweans under false pretenses, I feel sad for him, to use his words. If you want more insight and probably something to help you decide how you are going to vote on March 29, visit the full transcript of Makoni’s interview here. Personally, I’m not sure what to think anymore.

And as a matter of interest, TV SA is currently running a forum where people echo their sentiments concerning the Makoni interview. You can view it here. I must say I was captivated by one who wrote:

“I must say thanks to 3rd degree for working hard at discouraging the people of Zimbabwe from voting now RGM can surely walk his way to victory. We would even vote for a monkey if it contested in the election where ever it comes from. Do you know most people were not going to vote were it not for Simba – people now believed there could be a way out but well there’s always big mouthed journalists who have to go and cast doubts on people’s mind. Obviously Miss Reporter you have a boss and am sure he makes some decisions against your word of advice – so should we hold that against you. Why then would you hold it against Simba. We are tired of these speculations we just want to change even if it’s from within.”

* A stalking horse is a candidate put forward to mask the candidacy of another person, for whom the stalking horse will then withdraw.

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