Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has condemned as a slap in the face of democracy the arrest Sunday of opposition stalwart Arthur Mutambara. The police arrested Mutambara on charges of writing an article highly critical of incumbent President Robert Mugabe on the just ended March 29 elections which the opposition MDC claims it won with over 50 percent of the votes. The police however say Mutambara’s article is prejudicial to the state and also a contempt of court. But the MDC says the arrest is yet another attempt by the Mugabe regime to intimidate partisans of the party ahead of the June 27 presidential run-off. Nelson Chamisa is the spokesman for Zimbabwe’s opposition MDC. From the capital, Harare he tells reporter Peter Clottey the arrest is an assault on the tenets of democracy.
“This is a clear onslaught and assault on the democratic forces in this country. Mr. Mutambara is one of the democratic faces of our struggle, and his persecution is basically the persecution of the course for democracy, the course for freedom, and the course for change and prosperity in this country. This is again the manifestation of the desperation of the Mugabe regime after realizing that they will not win an election. So, all they are doing now is to focus on decimating our structures and rendering the organization comatose, and literally liquidate virtually all those who have been responsible for altering the demise of ZANU-PF regime,” Chamisa noted.
He said the arrest could potentially chip away at the opposition’s momentum before the upcoming presidential run-off.
“It has an impact in the sense that any arrest of a single democrat will undermine and reduce the speed of the democratic train, but it would not derail the train nevertheless, because the destination is for certain and sure that we will get there. There is no doubt that the people of this country would want to finish the dictatorship off. The suffering of the people has to be finished, and we need to finish it on the 27th,” he said.
Chamisa said the charges being leveled against Mutambara are not justified.
“Certainly not. What professor Mutambara was simply articulating is what is in the public domain. He was simply giving an objective analysis of the situation in the country. There is no contempt of court. You can’t persecute ideas and hope that the nation would move forward. Nations are built on the foundation of good ideas of opinions and that is what Professor Arthur Mutambara was trying to do. But of course this regime would not want any alternative thinking; this regime is scared of thinkers,” Chamisa pointed out.
He described as unfortunate incumbent President Mugabe’s pronouncement that he would not lose an election to the opposition MDC during the run-off.
“We have a family, which has been so traumatized by the defeat of the 29th of March that they are now only a verbal diarrhea and a verbal vomiting problem. We are not at all worried about what Mugabe is saying. This is what Smith was saying. Smith said, “Never in a thousand years, even my jacket will rule this country”. By now where is Smith? It’s the same thing. Mugabe will make all sorts of claims, he will make all sorts of swearing, but he will not be there after the 27 of June as president of this country,” he said.