The credibility of Arthur Mutambara's role in the power-sharing talks is being questioned, as the leader of the second MDC faction taking part in the talks appears to be aligning himself closely with Robert Mugabe.
The latest sign of Mutambara's suspected cross-allegiance came after he launched a scathing attack on the West in his Heroes Day message on Monday. The message, titled "Exalting the Heroic Revolution" spends pages criticising the West in a truly Mugabe-like style. In the message, Mutambara first recognises the significant role the West will play in Zimbabwe's future by saying: "We appreciate the moral, diplomatic and material support our democratic forces and organizations have received from Western institutions and governments."
But the message then continues with Mutambara saying, "we take exception to the irritating ignorance, political insensitivity, double standards, and patronizing arrogance that characterize Western diplomacy". Mutambara's message also takes aim at the Western criticism of the ongoing politically motivated violence in the country, labeling it "moralising nonsense". He also lashed out at Western governments, saying they have "undermined our legitimacy, strengthened our opponents, removed our moral authority, and ruined our effectiveness and standing among Africans".
Mutambara's tirade strongly echoes Robert Mugabe's long time hatred of the West. The growing suspicion of Mutambara's role in the power sharing deal between the MDC and ZANU-PF has been further fuelled by speculation that he is set to cross over to ZANU-PF - along with his members. The future of the MDC majority stake in parliament is therefore being questioned - as Mutambara holds the key to that majority. It would now appear as if Mutambara is slowly but surely affiliating himself and his MDC faction more closely to Mugabe. His warm welcome by Mugabe at Heroes Acre on Monday adds more fuel to the fire, as the welcome is far cry from Mutambara's actions last month, when he suspended the party's spokesman Gabriel Chaibva for attending Mugabe's inauguration.
Political analyst Dr John Makumbe from the University of Zimbabwe told Newsreel on Monday that Mutambara is clearly "ingratiating himself to Mugabe" and that the chance of a political crossover to ZANU-PF is a "real possibility". Makumbe said the MDC leader is "desperate to get into power" and will align himself with whichever party is most likely to help him achieve this end. He said Mutambara is putting the MDC in a "fragile position" and that it would appear that Mutambara believes he is in a better position in ZANU-PF, if the talks break down.