Top officials dump Zim opposition

In a statement, Mutambara, a professor of robotics, said Chimanikire had heeded an April 14 call by the faction for all those who had developed cold feet to jump ship. “Following the call by the party on 14 April 2006 to all those in leadership positions who have developed cold feet or doubts about the efficacy of our values on non-violence, democracy, equality and respect for the dignity of every Zimbabwean, we hereby announce that Mr Gift Chimanikire (on) the 18th of April 2006, handed in his letter of resignation from the position of national chairperson. “We wish him well. We continue to call upon any remaining members in similar situations to take this opportunity and resign,” Mutambara said. Efforts to get comments from Chimanikire were fruitless as his mobile was not reachable, and it could not be immediately established if he intended to join the rival camp led by Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC founding president, or the ruling Zanu-PF party of President Robert Mugabe or quit active politics. When the MDC split into two camps over differences brought to the fore by disagreements over participation in Zimbabwe’s senate elections held in November last year, Chimanikire was one of the officials who had a major fallout with Tsvangirai, whom he branded a dictator devoid of the vision required to continue leading the opposition party. The spokesman for the Tsvangirai faction, Nelson Chamisa, said he was not aware that Chimanikire had resigned but welcomed his move, regardless. “We are not even aware of his resignation. Actually, it is news to us. However, let me make it clear that there is only one MDC and there has never been any member who renounced his/her membership and they remain MDC members,” said Chamisa. Chimanikire became the fourth high-ranking official to resign from the Mutambara faction after the legislator for Binga constituency Joel Gabbuza, the camp’s director of elections and Kwekwe lawmaker Blessing Chebundo and his deputy Samuel Sipepa-Nkomo, who quit a week ago. The Mutambara cabal appears to have hit turbulence amid reports that some members are disilusioned by Mutambara’s inability to draw supporters from Tsvangirai, whilst Mutambara is reportedly furious over his lieutenants for misrepresenting the faction’s strength and popularity when they approached him to lead them. Analysts said at the rate the Mutambara faction is losing key members, it may not be long before the splinter group disintegrates.

April 2006
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