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A FACTION of Zimbabwe's divided opposition said on Saturday that the country could not wait for outsiders to liberate them from on-going political and economic problems, an official said.

Arthur Mutambara, leader of a faction of the Movement for Democratic Change, told a news conference that although the MDC leadership had resolved to engage Southern African Development Community mediation efforts there was a need for home-grown solutions.

"More significantly, the council noted that Zimbabweans cannot outsource their emancipation and liberation to foreigners," Mutambara said after a meeting of his governing national council.

"We must not be solely dependent on the (South African President Thabo) Mbeki initiative. We must have an alternative programme of action on the ground that seeks to achieve conditions for free and fair elections."

Mbeki, who has often come under fire for failing to publicly criticise Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, was appointed by fellow leaders of the Southern African Development Community to act as mediator between the government and the opposition MDC.

"We would like to give the mediation an opportunity to deliver, however we must be masters of our own destiny, we must have an alternative programme of action on the ground that allows us to fight our battles in our own country as Zimbabweans and not mortage ourselves and be completely dependent on the mediation efforts," he said.

The council meeting also decided to intensify defiance campaign activities against Mugabe with other political and civic society organisations, he added.

Mutambara launched a scathing attack on rival MDC faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai for rejecting a coalition agreement between the two factions.

"Fellow Zimbabweans, it is with a heavy heart that we announce that our colleagues have rejected a united front of all democratic forces that would have increased the opportunity to defeat the regime of Robert Mugabe."

Once a major force challenging Mugabe's grip on power, the MDC has been torn by infighting since Tsvangirai decided to boycott Senate elections in November 2005. - AFP

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