Zimbabwean voters are unforgiving and polarised; the two main opposing sets of supporters are equally fanatical in defending their leaders.
Loyalties are to parties and their leaders more than to anything.
However divided they are, ZANU-PF and MDC-T supporters are united in their suspicion of anyone that tries to come between them in their long fight.
“This environment is hostile to new political players,” Makoni conceded in that interview.
“It does not frustrate me, it saddens me. People have been forced to believe they can only pick from three choices; ZANU-PF, the MDC or no party at all. This is wrong.”
Even more than Moyo today, Makoni’s candidacy had been greeted by excitement.
Makoni was better known then than Moyo is now.
The MDC, far more experienced in opposition and schooled well by Mugabe in their fights with him, whispered loudly that Makoni was a ZANU-PF plant.
“I was carrying the baggage of being labelled a ZANU-PF project. People in both parties went round whispering that Simba is a plant of ZANU. That did a lot of damage.”
In conspiracy-loving Zimbabwe, such labels stick easily.
Makoni’s campaign was crippled in no time.
It was not helped by his refusal to get down and dirty in his speeches.
An engaging public speaker, he however spent most of his time at the podium regaling supporters with “issues”, steering clear of insults.
He resisted advice from inside his campaign to hit harder at Mugabe, and lay off his obsession with details of his vision for consensus building and other such nice terms.
But Makoni insisted: “They (voters) will not see me sling mud at competitors, but they will hear me talk about the issues that touch their lives.”
It didn’t help him.
Now, almost 10 years later, it is Moyo on the scene, playing Mr Nice Guy.
It is not the first time he has considered political service.
In 2000, he had toyed with the idea of running as an independent in Harare Central, but withdrew to remain in business.
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