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More Defections From Zimbabwe Opposition's Mutambara Faction


More defections have hit the faction of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by Arthur Mutambara, with former newspaper executive and faction deputy elections director Samuel Sipepa Nkomo jumping ship Thursday.

"I did not see them...achieving the objective of removing ZANU-PF from power," said Nkomo to reporter Chris Gande of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe. He said "the national mood is against a split in the MDC," and he did not want to resist the national mood.

Nkomo said reports he had joined the MDC faction led by MDC founding president Morgan Tsvangirai were inaccurate, but he did not rule out such a move. He closely followed his former boss, elections secretary Blessing Chebundo, out the door. Last week the faction's mines and energy secretary, Joel Gabuza, also bailed out.

Adding to Mutambara's problems, the chairman of his faction's United Kingdom branch and his entire executive committee were also reported to have resigned.

More members of the Mutambara faction are likely to cross over to Tsvangirai's camp in the days ahead, predicted senior analyst Syndey Masamvu of the Southern African office of the International Crisis group. He told reporter Patience Rusere that many are defecting because they see Tsvangirai as the best alternative to the ruling ZANU-PF.

Amidst signs of eroding support within his faction, Mutambara has been reaching out to establish a working relationship with South African President Thabo Mbeki. One of his top advisors, Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga, said he met with Mr. Mbeki last week in Pretoria, along with faction vice president Gibson Sibanda, and secretary general Welshman Ncube, the MDC's secretary general before the party split.

Reporter Carole Gombakomba asked parliamentary liaison officer Herman Honekom of the Africa Institute of South Africa for his perspective on meeting.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...

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