Simba Makoni Launches Political Party

HARARE,- Former finance minister and presidential hopeful in the March 2008 presidential election Simba Makoni, finally launched his Mavambo political project as a party on Wednesday at Stodart hall in Mbare, one of Harare's oldest and popular high density suburbs.

In an interview with our reporter, Makoni’s senior aide Godfrey Chanetsa, said the party believed there was a role for a third political force in the country.

"The Movement for Democratic Change is no longer an opposition party in our eyes and there are outstanding issues that need to be urgently resolved in the country," he said. "Zimbabwe needs a people driven constitution for example and we are not in support of the Kariba Draft, which is one sided. The country is not running because of continued divisions in government and the people are frustrated by politics of stalemate," he said.

Chanetsa said Makoni was still the party’s interim leader and that a leader would be appointed at the inaugural congress, to be held on a date to be advised.

When asked about the role of Ibbo Mandaza and Kudzai Mbudzi in the new party, Chanetsa said the two had nothing to do with the new party. Mandaza and Mbudzi were involved in dragging Makoni to the courts on allegations of siphoning party funds and diverting them to his personal use.

Makoni had last year indicated that he wished to form a political party to fill the vacuum created in opposition politics following the formation of the inclusive government. The two  opposition MDC parties joined Zanu-PF in a government of national unity in February this year.

Makoni told the recently held World Economic Forum (WEF) that he welcomed the unity government but did not like the way it was conceived. He described it as a child conceived through a rape.

Makoni was appointed Deputy Minister of Agriculture in 1980, when he was 30 years old.  In 1981, he became Minister of Industry and Energy Development, a position he held until 1983.

In 1983, he was appointed executive secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), serving in that post for ten years. A USd 25 000 scam rocked SADC in 1993, resulting in the dismissal of three officials. They implicated Makoni. He accepted full responsibility as executive secretary, but denied any personal wrongdoing.

He left SADC in 1994 and returned to Harare where he became managing director of Zimbabwe Newspapers until 1997. Makoni resigned after he failed to rein in the late Sunday Mail editor, Charles Chikerema, for stirring up racial animosity. Chikerema was a close relative of the President and Mugabe backed the editor in the dispute. The government is the majority shareholder in Zimbabwe Newspapers.

Makoni then had a second stint as cabinet minister, this time serving as Minister of Finance after the June 2000 parliamentary elections. He supported the devaluation of the Zimbabwean dollar, a policy that was opposed by Mugabe. the President showed him to the door for the second time and replaced him with Herbert Murerwa in 2002.