April 13, 2006

Opposition faction hit by resignations

Several members of a faction of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have broken ranks to rejoin Morgan Tsvangirai's side. Blessing Chebundo, the MP for the mining town of Kwekwe has already left the MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara. He said he was leaving for "very personal reasons." Another senior official, the former chief executive officer of the now-defunct Daily News, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, has also left Mutambara's faction although he has not yet joined Tsvangirai's side. In a further blow, five lower-level party representatives based overseas also sent in their resignations. "We have come to the conclusion that our aspirations and contributions to the Zimbabwean political process will not be realised by our affiliation to that grouping," said the five, led by Silence Chihuri, the faction's secretary in Scotland. A spokesperson for the Mutambara-led faction said he wished those who had defected "good luck" and denied that his faction was losing strength. "We wish them good luck. Like we have always said, the struggle is not a stroll in the park," Paul Themba Nyathi was quoted as saying in the Herald newspaper. He said the defections "were not a reflection that the faction was losing grip of its membership but a development that is to be expected in any struggle", according to the paper.

The MDC was split in two in late 2005, when Tsvangirai overruled an internal vote in favour of participation in elections for a controversial new senate. Tsvangirai, one of the founders of the MDC in 1999, was opposed to taking part in the senate but other party officials felt he should have respected the will of the party. Those officials left to form a rival side, now headed by Mutambara, a professor of robotics. (The Mail & Guardian, South Africa)

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