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Tsvangirai a hopeless leader – Mutambara
Posted: Wednesday, August 8, 2007

By Bulawayo Bureau
The Herald
August 08, 2007

PROFESSOR Arthur Mutambara, who heads a faction of the opposition MDC, yesterday poured scorn on the leadership qualities of Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, saying Zimbabwe does not deserve "another Chiluba".

Speaking in a television interview on the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Hardtalk programme, Prof Mutambara dismissed Mr Tsvangirai as a hopeless leader, remarking that even though he may be viewed by some as "brave", the truth is that he certainly lacks the "strategic vision" to transform Zimbabwe into a globally competitive economy.

Likening Mr Tsvangirai to Mr Frederick Chiluba – a former bus conductor and trade unionist who toppled President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia in the 1991 elections but was later tainted by accusations of corruption and economic mismanagement – Prof Mutambara said "bravery is not enough ... you need an economic vision".

"You may be brave, have guts, but what is needed is to have a vision ... strategy and tactics," he said.

Prof Mutambara had been riled by insinuations by the BBC interviewer, Alan Little, that he was a coward compared to Mr Tsvangirai, who was charged with treason in 2002 and was on March 11 this year hurt in a clash with the police in Harare. Mr Tsvangirai had gone to the police station after learning of Prof Mutambara’s arrest.

Political analysts said at that time Mr Tsvangirai feared that Prof Mutambara would "steal the thunder from him" in the eyes of the Western forces supporting the opposition party in the regime-change agenda in Zimbabwe.

He allegedly confronted the police, resulting in an incident in which he was injured.

In yesterday’s interview, Prof Mutambara – who recently described his arch-rival Mr Tsvangirai as "an intellectual midget" and "a weak and indecisive leader" – fell short of saying that the Tsvangirai camp is full of hypocrites who accuse Zanu-PF of being undemocratic yet they themselves routinely flout the basic tenets of democracy.

He said opposition leaders must be truly democratic and desist from violence, or else Zimbabwe would end up with "a false revolution" like what he said happened in Zambia.

A fortnight ago, the robotics and mechatronics professor launched a scathing attack on Mr Tsvangirai, a former mine

worker and trade unionist, caricaturing him as a leader who lacks a vision and is "pursuing a perverted agenda".

This was after the Tsvangirai-led group had spurned a unity offer by refusing to adopt a so-called coalition agreement that would see the two groups fielding the perennial election loser, Mr Tsvangirai, as their sole candidate in next year’s presidential race.

Last week, Mr Tsvangirai did not take Prof Mutambara’s salvo lying down but returned fire by warning that he was "not the enemy".

During yesterday’s interview, Prof Mutambara unsuccessfully tried to duck questions on the attacks that have been levelled by his camp on Mr Tsvangirai.

When cornered, he was left with no choice but to lash out at Mr Tsvangirai.

Clearly at pains to convey his anguish to his British and United States audiences following the collapse of the so-called unity talks between the two MDC factions, Prof Mutambara repeatedly complained that although his camp was ready to adopt a "coalition agreement" on a "single-candidate principle" for the March 2008 joint presidential and parliamentary elections, the Tsvangirai camp had since refused to embrace the initiative.

The agreement, he explained, was scuttled by Mr Tsvangirai at the 11th hour.

He blasted the Tsvangirai camp for failing to appreciate the importance of mobilising a united opposition to Zanu-PF, but quickly added that his faction was ready to go it alone by fielding its own candidates at the forthcoming polls.

Prof Mutambara told his BBC interviewer that it was wrong for people to consider him a newcomer to opposition politics.

He was in opposition politics long before Mr Tsvangirai even considered venturing into politics, he said.

He argued that, in fact, when he was arrested by police as a student leader at the University of Zimbabwe in the late 1980s, his recollection of Mr Morgan Tsvangirai was his (Mr Tsvangirai’s) condemnation of the detention. This clearly showed that he has been in the "struggle against Zanu-PF" for a longer time than Mr Tsvangirai, he added.

The interviewer asked Prof Mutambara whether it was true that he was a Shona figurehead at the helm of what is essentially a Ndebele faction.

Hard-pressed to strike a chord with sections of the Matabeleland population, where a desperate scramble for votes between the MDC factions is anticipated in the countdown to March 2008, Prof Mutambara criticised Mr Tsvangirai for recently announcing during an overseas visit that his camp was willing to consider a blanket pardon for alleged human rights violations.

"No blanket amnesty. No. We want restorative justice. What about the victims?" said Prof Mutambara, in remarks apparently directed at Mr Tsvangirai, who has touted the "amnesty" line.

When asked about his election plan, Prof Mutambara said his faction has a twin-pronged strategy anchored on civil disobedience and the ongoing Sadc-brokered dialogue between Zanu-PF and the MDC factions.

"We want free and fair elections," he added.

This is the second time within two weeks that Prof Mutambara has attacked the leadership qualities of Mr Tsvangirai following the break-up of the unity talks between the two factions.

BBC: Arthur Mutambara
Allan Little talks to Arthur Mutambara, the leader of one faction of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Why are the opposition fighting each other?

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