February 26, 2006

Mutambara takes charge of MDC faction / Zanu PF expels Chiyangwa and Paradza

Arthur Mutambara has taken over the leadership of the pro-Senate faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) after deputy secretary general Gift Chimanikire had dropped out of the presidential race. Party officials said the academic had, as a result, been overwhelmingly nominated for the post of president by provincial structures that cited his leadership qualities and academic background as unparalleled in the pro-Senate faction. "All provinces nominated Mutambara for the post of president and Chimanikire for the chairmanship of the party. We have no doubt about the leadership qualities of the two although Chimanikire had to be convinced by all provinces to drop out of the presidential race," said one of the executives. He said: "There were problems among delegates from Harare province as some of them initially protested against the nomination of Mutambara, after they expressed their concern that the former student leader was not in touch with the prevailing situation in Zimbabwe as he has been away for too long. However, they changed their minds after other provincial executives convinced them that Arthur was the right person for the presidency of the party." Mutambara is a former student leader who is now recognized as one of Africa's most prominent scientists. Fifteen years ago at the University of Zimbabwe he lead the student opposition to the ruling Zanu PF. After completing his doctorate at Britain's Oxford University he went on to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and became professor at several other universities in the United States.

In the meantime, it got known that Zanu PF has expelled former Mashonaland West provincial chairman and businessman Mr Philip Chiyangwa and former Makonde legislator Mr Kindness Paradza from the party. Mr Chiyangwa is also a former Member of Parliament for Chinhoyi. Zanu PF secretary for administration Cde Didymus Mutasa confirmed the expulsion of the two but did not elaborate. In July 2005, Chiyangwa had resigned from the provincial chairmanship but insisted that he would remain a ruling party cadre. Before his resignation, the businessman-cum-politician was arrested on charges of espionage but was cleared by the High Court in February 2005. Paradza was elected into Parliament in October 2003 in a by-election to fill a post, which fell vacant following the death of Swithun Mombeshora. But he was later suspended for allegedly undermining the party’s leadership among other charges. In December 2004, Mr Paradza was arrested for allegedly fanning violence in Makonde Constituency during the run-up to Zanu PF primary elections. He was accused of mobilising his supporters to attack his rival, Cde Leo Mugabe’s youths. He is out on bail pending the finalisation of the matter. (The Zimbabwe Standard / VOA News / The Herald, Harare)

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