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Minister brands new opposition leader US agent

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s state security minister has branded a new opposition leader a CIA agent and stooge of the Bush administration, a state daily in the southern African nation repo

rted on Tuesday.

Arthur Mutambara, recently elected leader of a faction of the Movement for Democratic Change, had committed “sins” in the 1980s as a student leader and been planted in Zimbabwe politics by U.S. President George W. Bush, the Herald quoted Didymus Mutasa as telling a provincial meeting of the ruling ZANU-PF last weekend.


“We know Mutambara and the sins he committed at the University of Zimbabwe,” Mutasa said in reference to the anti-government protests that Mutambara led in the late 1980s.


“He is a permanent resident of America and was sent here by Bush and the CIA. He is not patriotic at all to his country,” he added.


Both Mutasa and Mutambara, a 40-year-old U.S.-trained rocket scientist with permanent residency in the United States and South Africa, were not immediately available for comment. A spokesman for Mutambara’s MDC faction dismissed the accusations.


“This regime is in the habit of making wild accusations against all and sundry, of trying to intimidate all those opposed to its policies,” the spokesman, Paul Themba-Nyathi, said.


“It’s absurd but in their view we are all foreign agents and the only patriots are found in ZANU-PF,” he added.


Morgan Tsvangirai has led the MDC since it was formed in 1999, almost defeating President Robert Mugabe in 2002 elections the opposition says were rigged.


But Tsvangirai has clashed with his top lieutenants over how best to take on Mugabe’s ZANU-PF, spurring the defection of the dissident group last October over disagreement on whether to contest elections for a new Senate.


The rift in the MDC comes against the background of a deepening economic crisis blamed on Mugabe, 82, who critics say has mismanaged the country since assuming power at independence from Britain in 1980.


Mugabe denies responsibility for persistent shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency, unemployment of over 70 percent, and the world’s highest inflation rate. He claims the economy has been sabotaged by opponents of his drive to forcibly redistribute white-owned farms. — Reuter

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