"Mutambara has failed the test, not the man we thought he'd be" – MDC-M

Zimbabwe's Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara could be left clutching at straws after his party's congress next year.

Mutambara, thrust to the helm of the smaller formation of the MDC party, is staring at a turbulent period in his political career since he emerged as a player in mainstream Zimbabwe politics in 2006.

Revered by many back then and depicted as the biblical Moses of the smaller Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formation, Mutambara has lost the touch which those that brought him into politics thought he possessed.

A vociferous character at the time, Mutambara, during his acceptance speech after being "elected" as president of the MDC party, promised to deliver freedom to the people.

He chastised President Robert Mugabe for allegedly ruining Zimbabwe’s promising future through allowing the breeding of corruption, lack of good governance and democracy.

He also sounded warning bells to the leader of the bigger formation of the MDC, now Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, that he would ensure that his party gathered support of the Zimbabwean mass.

Said Mutambara in 2006: "I, Arthur Oliver Guseni Mutambara, and other democratic forces in Zimbabwe, riding on the shoulders of Sekuru Kaguvi and Mbuya Nehanda (Zimbabwe’s respected spirit mediums) today tell [President] Robert Mugabe and [Prime Minister] Morgan Tsvangirai that they should shape up or ship out.

"The time has come now for us to take Zimbabweans to the promised land. We will not allow Mugabe to ruin this country anymore. It is time that Zimbabwe regained its status among other countries as the breadbasket of the region and not a basket case as it has become through Mugabe’s policies."

However, after the birth of Zimbabwe’s shaky coalition government in 2008, Mutambara melted from being the vociferous character to being a man whose speciality area is national politics.

During the negotiation talks for the establishment of the coalition government, one of the two main partners of the inclusive government, the larger formation of the MDC party, accused Mutambara of being a protégé of Mugabe.

He was accused of heaping and singing the praises of Mugabe’s liberation war credentials and the need for Zimbabweans to emulate Mugabe’s history, and that of Zanu-PF.

His preoccupation with national politics and his praise-singing antics have, however, proved costly at party level.

Party sources this week said that Mutambara has hardly had time to be at the party’s office, never mind the time to lead, as the party expected of him.

"Party members feel he is now a liability to the party," said a party source.

"He has hardly had time for party issues, leaving everything to the party’s secretary-general, Welshman Ncube.

”This year alone, he has never set foot in the office but likes to conduct his business via remote control, meaning using Ncube," the source said.

The former University of Zimbabwe student leader is now caught between a rock and a hard place.

The announcement by President Robert Mugabe that the country’s general elections, both presidential and parliamentary, will be held next year has sounded a death knell for the former university student leader.

What with prospects that his party could hold its congress between February and March next year, Mutambara’s political career stands on the edge of a cliff.

If he is booted out of his party’s presidency, he has no other chance to regain lost ground. Chances are slim that he can win a parliamentary seat.

With the elections being held next year, prospects that a government of national unity might be formed again are slim.

The inclusive government is hoping that next year’s elections would produce one leader and government as opposed to the current status quo.

Movers and shakers within the MDC party say Mutambara looks headed for a defeat should he stand for the party’s presidency against incumbent secretary-general, Professor Welshman Ncube.

Ncube, on the other hand, has declared his interest in running for the party’s presidency.

Hiding behind the popular "people have said" gimmick, Ncube appears to have covered enough ground to oust Mutambara from the presidency of the smaller formation of the MDC party.

It is said within party circles that Ncube has all but managed to whip all party structures into his line, leaving Mutambara to bank on a tribal card. However, insiders revealed, the gimmick is likely to fail, as those from Mashonaland region also appear to be fed up with the deputy prime minister’s leadership.

"He has been in power at party level for more than three years now. There is nothing tangible that one can say he has done in those years," said an insider.

"He has been busy with his post as deputy prime minister even in instances where we know there wouldn’t be much business to warrant his absence from party activities.

"This has left Ncube to endear himself to the people and prove that he can stand for the people and with the people when the going gets tough. Ncube has proved himself as a credible leader, at least to those within the party and the people are agreed that he [Ncube] should be elevated to the presidency of the party," the insider said.

An effort to discuss his future plans failed to yield the desired results as Mutambara demanded that he be asked about "important national issues".

"I have said this time and again. Journalists should stop calling me to ask about petty party political issues. Mutambara is a brand and he is busy with national issues.

”If any journalist wants to talk to Mutambara, they should discuss national issues of importance. That is what Mutambara has time for. Nothing else," he said before hanging up his phone. – Times Live