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Mugabe says Makoni 'worse than a prostitute'

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By Lebo Nkatazo

ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe on Thursday launched into a virulent attack against his former finance minister who is challenging him in elections next month, describing him as worse than a prostitute.

In a television interview to mark his 84th birthday, Mugabe launched into Simba Makoni who until February 5 was a member of the politburo, the top decision making body of the ruling Zanu PF party.

It was the first time Mugabe publicly reacted to Makoni’s challenge which has injected a new excitement to the presidential race which appeared to be headed for a rematch of his disputed 2002 victory over Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Mugabe blasted: "What has happened now is absolutely disgraceful. I didn’t think that Makoni, after all the experience, could behave like the way he did and in a naïve way too, boasting that ‘I am Simba Makoni’.

“He doesn’t even have a party, he says ‘people come and join me I am amazing, I am a magnate, come to me and I am there to lead you’. No! You go to the people and the people find you, you don’t become self-important when you are looking for support.

"So I have compared him to a prostitute. A prostitute could have stood up also saying ‘I have boyfriends in the MDC, others are in Zanu PF, there is no party without my boyfriends, so I am going to the nomination (court) as well’. But you see, a prostitute could have done better than Makoni because she has clients.”

Personal attacks have become a hallmark of Mugabe’s survival strategy as he battles growing resentment to his continued stay in power, manifesting itself through rampant indiscipline in the Zanu PF ranks.

With the country’s economy all but collapsed and record inflation of over 100 000 percent, Mugabe’s television interview offered little insight into his economic revival plan.

"It means purely we have got to enhance production, make the goods available as cheap as possible. But we need to work with people who also understand that," he said when asked how his government intended to deal with the inflation crisis.

Mugabe was upbeat about his chances of being re-elected, saying his victory would be a blow to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s ‘regime change’ agenda in the southern African country.

"I do hope the humble pies -- and they will be big ones -- that we will deliver for the edification of the opposition will be eaten and eaten satisfactorily," he said.

Mugabe’s chief rival in the past decade Morgan Tsvangirai launches his presidential campaign in Mutare this weekend, while Makoni is expected to hold his first rally in the second largest city of Bulawayo next week.

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