-answer session following his wide-ranging address to journalists at the Gweru Press Club last Saturday, Mutambara said it was time for people like him who had benefited from their experiences abroad to intervene and help resolve Zimbabwe’s problems.
“Some have said I have been out of the country for 16 years and I am out of touch with the country’s reality. They say I don’t know the price of bread but I guess I am not the only one because the price changes everyday,” Mutambara quipped.
Commenting on his recent meeting with South African president Thabo Mbeki, Mutambara said he had gone there to confer with Mbeki and to explain his faction’s position. He said the visit was out of the recognition of Mbeki’s importance in the region and internationally.
“The details of the visit remain confidential, but Mbeki was very comfortable with us. We are rebranding, so we had to explain our position to Mbeki. Mbeki and South Africa are very important to Zimbabwe. The problem that the MDC made in the past was that it failed to know who to align themselves with. We have come to hate Robert Mugabe so much that we have been willing to sup with the devil. For the MDC to be seen to be in alliance with ex-Rhodesians and Tony Leon’s democratic party is wrong. When Tsvangirai aligned himself with that was the kiss of death. It’s like us aligning ourselves with the Ku-Klax-Klan. During the liberation struggle, ZANLA and ZIPRA were trained in countries like Cuba, Russia and China. Did you ever hear about them being trained in London or New York. Europe and the US will talk about human rights, but when it comes to their own interests they will never help us. We told Mbeki that our allies will be COSATU and the SACP not the ex-Rhodesians and the racist Afrikaners. We have to be careful in choosing our allies. There is no way you can be relevant to the people in Zimbabwe and elsewhere when the leaders in the region don’t respect you,” he said.
Asked about his faction’s position on mass action Mutambara said his side reserved the right to engage in democratic resistance but would take that option as a last resort.
“We are determined to dislodge Mugabe through the ballot. We are going to build this party into such a powerful force that it will be impossible to rig elections. Even if they rig they won’t be able to live to explain. There is no democratic resistance that we don’t understand. We are not afraid of jambanja but I think it is naivety of the highest order to talk about things like ‘final push’ and so forth. The difference between us and the other faction is that not only do we have plan ‘B’ but we also have plan ‘C’, ‘D’ and ‘E’,” Mutambara said without elaborating.
The pro-senate faction’s secretary general said threats of a mass action by the Tsvangirai faction were “empty” as those threatening them were cowards.
“I have worked with these people in the past and I know these threats are empty. I dare you to phone if they eventually carry out their threats. What is the point of telling your enemy about what you intend to do to them,” Ncube said.
On the possibility of reuniting with the anti-senate faction Mutambara said his side remained open to reuniting, but the Tsvangirai-led faction also had to respond to calls for unity.
Mutambara said in the event of such reunification there had to be fresh elections for all positions in the party.
He said the current position between the two factions was that of sharing assets, logos and slogans and protecting either side’s Members of Parliament in course without appeal to the speaker of parliament or recourse to the courts. He added that if the current impasse between the two factions remained, his faction would rebrand, with the option of choosing a new name being a possibility.
Mutambara also said his faction would focus on reaching out to the rural population and assist them with things like agricultural inputs even when the faction was still in opposition. We won’t wait to get into power in order to start delivering,” Mutambara said.
He had earlier visited Malamulela in Zhombe on a meet-the-people tour. On Sunday, Mutambara had a walk-about in Gweru’s central business district meeting vegetable vendors and other members at the main bus terminus, then proceeded to Maboleni in Lower Gweru.
BY TANAKA CHITORO
GWERU - The leader of the pro-senate faction of the MDC, Professor Arthur Mutambara, has dismissed criticism by his opponents that his prolonged stay out of the country has put him out of touch with the Zimbabwean reality.
Responding to questions during a question-and