Robert Mugabe yesterday smeared presidential candidate Simba Makoni by labelling him a "prostitute". Former finance minister had declared himself a candidate two weeks ago
“I have compared him to a prostitute,” he said , referring to Mr Makoni’s willingness to appeal to disenchanted members of the ruling ZANU(PF) party, as well as members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. “A prostitute could have stood (as a presidential candidate). He is saying, I have so many boyfriends, some in the MDC, some in ZANU(PF), so I can go for nomination (as a candidate). But a prostitute could have done better, because she has clients.” He and his interviewer on state television doubled up with laughter (ah the joys of an independent media).
Mr Makoni, 57 is one of the longest surviving senior members of Mr Mugabe’s party but he is not tainted with the corruption and brutality of nearly all the rest, He declared that he was standing against Mr Mugabe because of his “failure of leadership”. Mr Makoni’s decision has caused major upsets within ZANU(PF) triggering unprecedented signs of rebelliousness. Most of his officials feel the distress of blackouts, water cuts, streets flowing with sewage and the worst inflation in the world as much as other Zimbabweans.
Mr Makoni signalled the start of his election campaign by grinning boyishly in a full-page advertisement in a critical weekly newspaper, with the motto, “Simba for the people!” Godfrey Chanetsa, his spokesman, said he had tried to insert the same advertisement in the state-controlled stable of weeklies and dailies, but was told they were “fully booked”. Mr Mugabe’s “prostitute” slur came in a numbing hour-long interview - the first of two - on state television to mark his 84th birthday on Thursday. There were scores of advertisements inserted by bankrupt government agencies in the government-controlled radio, television and press. The main daily newspaper, the Herald, had two birthday supplements that lauded Mr Mugabe as “the collective consciousness of revolutionaries the world over”, and praised his “visionary leadership”. Each hourly news bulletin was preceded by a version of “Happy Birthday”, composed for the occasion.
I daresay Mugabe’s already got the stuffed ballot boxes on standby...