By Beven Takunda
Harare, August 12, 2013 – Outgoing Deputy Prime Minister and deposed MDC leader Professor Arthur Mutambara on Monday made his first public appearance in months after hibernating from the political radar at a national event boycotted by the Morgan Tsvangirai led MDC-T party and western diplomats.
Mutambara went into political oblivion in the run-up to last month’s harmonised elections and uncharacteristically remained silent throughout the election period.
However, the former leader of the breakaway faction of the MDC party resurfaced at the national shrine on Monday during a rally held to mark Heroes Day and which was addressed by President-elect and Zanu PF leader Robert Mugabe.
Mutambara, who was seated next to Mugabe at the Heroes Acre, could be seen smiling while following proceedings that lasted almost one hour.
On Monday, Zanu PF insiders told Radio VOP that the robotics professor might be given a ministerial position in the Zanu PF-led government as a reward for being loyal to Mugabe during the tenure of the shaky coalition government during which Mutambara sided with the octogenarian leader in times of disagreements with Tsvangirai.
Most western diplomats who have previously attended the heroes day commemorations boycotted the event where the visibly aged Zimbabwe leader devoted much of his time lambasting western governments and congratulating his Zanu PF party supporters for voting for him in the just ended harmonised election.
European Union Ambassador to Zimbabwe Aldo Dell Arricia told Radio VOP in a telephone interview that he could not attend the event as he was attending to some pressing commitments.
“We respect all the national days but it is only that I was committed with something which was urgently needed in Brussels. We have however sent a representative from the office that went to attend the event. Otherwise was it not because of the commitment I had, as usual I could have attended,” said Dell Arricia.
In 2010, while burying his sister Sabina at the national shrine, former US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray, Germany envoy Albrecht Conze and the Greek and European Union chargé d’ affaires Stephanos Ioannides and Barbara Plinket respectively, walked out on Mugabe after he told western governments and their representatives to “go to hell” several times for allegedly interfering in the affairs of the country, a charge which they deny.
The EU, Britain and Australia have denounced Mugabe’s election victory which local civic groups and southern African countries such as Botswana have condemned as a “sham” election.
Some Zanu PF supporters vented their anger at western governments and local non-governmental organisations by displaying banners emblazoned with anti-west rhetoric reading; “We see better, we observe better, judge better than all of you Natives, Westerners”. “Is ZESN larger, than SADC, COMESA, AU, Third World?
The Zanu PF supporters also distributed some posters denouncing Tsvangirai and some of them read; “There is honour in conceding defeat”. “Come on …concede defeat” and “3-0 Nagushungo”.
Members of the uniformed forces, and some Zanu PF youths clad in their green and yellow regalia ululated and denouncing Tsvangirai by shouting; “Chematama haaitonge nyika”, whenever Mugabe paused during the delivery of his speech.
SADC, COMESA and the AU have endorsed the Mugabe’s victory describing the election as peaceful. They have however reserved their comments on the fairness and credibility of the poll. Tsvangirai, who according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission lost the Presidential election has already petitioned the Electoral Court challenging Mugabe’s victory and has drawn up a dossier detailing how Mugabe and Zanu PF committed electoral fraud.