Thursday, April 13, 2006

Mass Exodus and Uninspiring Rallies become Modus Operandi for Mutambara

While Tsvangirai has consolidated his position as the only MDC leader with the people's mandate, Arthur Mutambara his antagonist for the party has seen his prospects dwindle from oblique to bleak. Yesterday, Mutambara addressed a rally in Mt. Pleasant, a northern suburb in Harare which is home to the University of Zimbabwe, where Mutambara rose to prominence as a firebrand student activist. Despite his illustrous academic and political carree during his days at the university, Mutambara could only attract around 200 people to the rally only minutes away from the campus.
Beleaguered Bulawayo dissident faction leader Professor Arthur Mutambara was not 10 minutes into his speech in Mt Pleasant yesterday when a small timid crowd that turned up for his rally began to show signs of acute boredom. They whispered, scratched, stared at the ceiling. And these were his few remaining fervent supporters, mainly students drawn from the University of Zimbabwe who were seduced with Scuds [popular Zimbabwean opaque beer] to the rally venue, Mt Pleasant Hall in Harare North constituency. The robotics professor prodded on.

Nowhere has the contrast between Mutambara and Tsvangirai been more apparent than during the last two weeks where Tsvangirai pulled no less than 10 000 people with each outing while the embattled robotics professor only managed to pull a paltry 300 students and a few domestic workers force-marched to the rally by their white employers, obviously sympathetic to Harare North MP Trudy Stevenson. From yesterday’s rally, it was apparent that Mutambara’s faltering campaigns continue to lack the brash self-confidence and hype that characterized his emergence into the political fray two months ago.
After the resignation of Blessing Chebundo from Mutambara's faction, Simon Sipepa Nkomo has also reportedly quit the side. Nkomo, most famous as editor of the now defunct Daily News, had apparently been appointed to deputise Chebundo as director of elections in the faction. As if that is not enough, I have seen an email chronicling the resignation of five other Mutambara faction members whose roles are not specified.

Meanwhile Tsvangirai is expected to unveil the details of his planned mass action. Part of the strategy involves calls to boycott businesses controlled by government.

David Coltart a reknowned human rights lawyer, MDC advisor and advocate for an amicable reconciliation of the factions fired of this salvo to leaders in both factions pleading for peace in any actions taken.

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