Zimbabwe's Mugabe faces serious election challenge: Reuters

In a February 14 article Reuters' Cris Chinaka writes about the formidable challenge that awaits Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe in the upcoming presidential elections of March 29.

Simba Makoni

According to Chinaka, the last minute wild-card candidacy of former finance minister, Simba Makoni raises the stakes in this election.  Makoni's decision to run for president has, by and large, revved up much international excitement.  At first glance he presents a much-needed alternative to the split opposition, which has, to be fair and honest, been a threat unto its own self.  Makoni, who's been hailed as the first serious challenger to Mugabe, enjoys Obama-like status in the West and the fact that he has since been expelled from ZANU PF adds that admirable hell-raiser appeal to his juvenile character.

But, what matters, unfortunately, is not how Makoni is regarded in the West.  At the end of the day, it will come down to how Zimbabweans living the trials and tribulations of a country in decline will view his candidacy.  Already, there is an air of suspicion about Makoni's abrupt announcement of his decision to run for president.  Makoni announced that he would be running for president at the beginning of February.  In light of the fact that the election he now intends to partake in is taking place next month, it is no surprise that many a pundit are starting to question his sincerity.  

The more you look at it, the more plausible it appears that Makoni, regardless of whether his candidacy is sincere or not, will end being a last minute spoiler whose entry into this election will only split the opposition's vote as opposed to posing a threat to Mugabe.