(AFP) – Feb 15, 2008
HARARE (AFP) — Candidates for Zimbabwe's March presidential elections were confirmed on Friday by a nominations court in Harare.
"The following candidates have been duly nominated; Makoni Herbert Stanley Simbarashe (Independent), Mugabe Robert Gabriel (ZANU-PF), Toungana Langton (Independent) and Tsvangirai Morgan," Zimbabwe electoral commission presiding officer Ignatius Mushangwe announced when he adjourned the court.
"Since more than one candidate has been duly nominated for the office of president the polls shall take place on Saturday March 29 2008 in accordance with the electoral act."
Papers for President Robert Mugabe were submitted to the nominations court by Emmerson Mnangagwa, the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) secretary for legal affairs.
Former finance minister Simba Makoni, standing as an independent, handed in his papers in person while forms for the main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, were submitted by his senior aide Nelson Chamisa.
Nomination papers for William Gwata of the little-known Christian Democratic party were rejected for failing to satisfy the criteria while former ZANU-PF official Daniel Shumba was barred from submitting his papers after turning up at the close of nominations.
Mnangagwa, who is also Mugabe's rural housing minister, said the ruling party was confident of extending its rule both at the presidential vote and the parliamentary elections which are also taking place on March 29.
"We are extremely confident because we have been organising for the last year or so and restructuring the party," he said in brief comments to reporters outside the courthouse.
Makoni, who has been kicked out of ZANU-PF over his challenge to Mugabe, said he would immediately launch his election campaign.
"I feel good and I am raring to go," he told reporters after filing the acceptance of papers.
"As soon as I leave this building I will launch my campaign."
Chamisa expressed confidence that the MDC would romp to victory in the elections.
"There is no doubt that this election is between the MDC and two ZANU-PF factions, one led by Simba Makoni and the other led by Robert Mugabe," Chamisa said.
"We are fighting a fractious ZANU-PF and we are going to win."
A breakaway faction from the MDC did not put up a candidate but rather decided to support Makoni.
"Our political party, has decided in pursuit of national interest to endorse the presidential bid in Zimbabwe by Dr Simba Makoni," the faction's leader, Arthur Mutambabra, told a news conference.
"Dr Makoni is a courageous Zimbabwean. Makoni has the ability to unify people across the political divide and he has a strategic vision."
Mutambara added he would be himself be contesting for a seat in Zengeza West, 30 kilometres (18 miles) southwest of the capital.
But Makoni said: "I am not in an alliance with anyone. I am an independent candidate and I am standing alone."
Mugabe, who is 84 next week, is hoping to secure a sixth term of office as leader of the former British colony of Rhodesia which he has ruled since independence in 1980.
The elections are taking place against a backdrop of economic meltdown in Zimbabwe, which has an official inflation rate of more than 66,000 percent -- the highest in the world.
Unemployment stands at around 80 percent, even basic foodstuffs are scare, and the general infrastructure is rapidly crumbling.
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