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Zimbabwe's Opposition Needs to Speak to Africa, Says New Leader

Arthur Mutambare, a newly-elected leader of one of Zimbabwe's opposition parties, says he has an obligation to return home to help deliver people from what he says is the dictatorship of the ruling ZANU PF.

Arthur Mutambare, who lead the first ever pro-democracy student protests against the present government 16 years ago, says the main opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change, has an image problem. He was elected as president of one of the factions of the MDC, which split in October last year.

He says the party needs a makeover. He said Africa's perception, rightly or wrongly, was that the MDC was too close to western governments, such as the United States and Britain.

"The MDC had a problem of image, a branding problem. They failed to effectively de-link themselves from interests or perceptions of imperialism. If you are perceived as a puppet, those perceptions become a reality. You have to actively disengage yourself from those that give you that terrible image," he said.

Arthur Mutambare does not dwell on what divides the MDC, and says he hopes that leader of the other faction, Morgan Tsvangirai, and all democrats who want to end ZANU PF rule, will join him in the struggle to bring democracy to Zimbabwe.

ZANU PF began seizing white-owned commercial land after white farmers began to openly support and help finance the MDC when it was formed in 2000. Mutambara says Africa also became confused about the MDC's close association with white farmers.

"Land secondly, The MDC, was not able to articulate a revolutionary land program," he said. "They gave the impression that the major driver of their policy was white farmer interest. Rightly or wrongly the impression was out there that these people were pursuing and pushing an agenda on land for white farmers. It was their job to clarify and make sure that thier position was unequivocal taht their desire was to have a land revolution meant for all Zimbabweans, white and black."

The MDC at first gave the impression that the major driver of their policy were white farmers. Rightly or wrongly the MDC was seen seen pursuing and pushing an agenda on land for white farmers instead of a desire to have a land revolution meant for all Zimbabweans, white and black.

He said he decided to return home and become involved in opposition politics for several reasons, among them, to be able to make a difference, which he could not do from South Africa where he was living.

"It is my civic duty and obligation to participate in the process of creating solutions for my own I am jumping from the pan into the fire, to participate in the liberation of Zimbabwe from the hegemony of Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF. We are here to fight and defeat Mugabe, and fight the regime, which brought misery and suffering, and defeat them and form the next government, that's my agenda, pure and simple," said Mutambara.

Mutambara won a scholarship to do his doctorate in electrical engineering at Britain's Oxford University after he left the University of Zimbabwe and he then worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and NASA before returning to Africa to work in Johannesburg, South Africa. There he headed up a business and scientific institute until he was invited to make himself available for election to one faction of the MDC. Now he says he is returning home to Zimbabwe.