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Zimbabwe’s ruling party expels Mugabe challenger

Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF has expelled former finance minister Simba Makoni for deciding to challenge veteran President Robert Mugabe in presidential elections next month, a party official said yesterday.
ZANU-PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira told a news conference in the capital Harare that Makoni would remain expelled even if he did not file his nomination papers as required by Friday.
"It's about his (Makoni's) attitude to the party and to the president, which he has shown and he is being expelled for that," Shamuyarira said.
"He is expelled. It's not about filing the (nomination) paper.
"He can be expelled for a very long time. There are people whom have been expelled for a very long time and some of them have been re-expelled."
On Tuesday last week, Makoni announced he would stand against Mugabe in joint presidential and parliamentary elections set for March 29 when the 83-year-old president will seek a sixth term.
The former minister said that while he would stand as an independent candidate, he remained loyal to ZANU-PF and would have liked to run under its colours.
He claimed there were others in the party who supported him.
Mugabe was confirmed as ZANU-PF's candidate at a party conference in December, when talk of a challenge from within party ranks failed to materialise.
Shamuyarira said any party member deciding to join Makoni would be automatically expelled, adding the party did not know of any others backing the former minister.
"We don't have the name of these others … if they take the same route that Dr Makoni took they will be expelled," he said.
"We want to make that expulsion very clear because it's either you support the party or you don't. If you don't support the party then you are excluded."