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Zimbabwean Presidential Candidate Makoni Stumps On Ruling Party Turf

Independent Zimbabwean presidential candidate Simba Makoni hit the campaign trail on Thursday in Mashonaland East Province, a stronghold of the ZANU-PF ruling party which expelled him earlier this month after he announced his candidacy.

But police told Makoni that he could not answer questions from supporters and he was trailed by apparent agents of the Central Intelligence Organization.

Rural villagers received the independent candidate with enthusiasm as he made stops in the area some 250 kilometers east of Harare to introduce himself.

"My name is Simba Makoni, I've come to introduce myself to you and to confirm that I've entered the presidential race," Makoni said, shaking hands with curious villagers. "We need your support so we can return power to you, the people, and so we can reclaim our country which is being destroyed by a minority."

Correspondent Thomas Chiripasi of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe, traveling with the Makoni campaign, told reporter Blessing Zulu that the presence of agents did not prevent Makoni from predicting he'll win a landslide victory on March 29.

In Johannesburg, meanwhile, a one-day Zimbabwe solidarity seminar involving leading South African labor and civil society groups concluded with a call for Zimbabwe’s divided opposition Movement for Democratic Change to reconsider forming a unified front in the elections, reported Studio 7 correspondent Benedict Nhlapho.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...