Mutambara faces demotion to Industry and Trade Ministry

MDC-M leader, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, could be demoted to the Ministry of Industry and Trade should the party’s congress elevate Welshman Ncube to the position of party president, well-placed party sources said Sunday.

The MDC-M will hold its congress in Harare at the weekend where 5 000 delegates are expected to attend.

Speculation is rife within the party that if Ncube, who looks almost certain to ascend to the helm of MDC-M, is elevated to party president, Mutambara would be redeployed to fill Ncube’s former post in government as Minister of Industry and Trade.

The party’s national spokesperson Edwin Mushoriwa would yesterday neither confirm nor deny the assertion, saying the power to effect such changes in the party was in the hands of the standing committee which would be elected after the party’s congress.

“The committee will do everything relating to human resources movement,” he said.

Mushoriwa dismissed as baseless sentiments by constitutional expert Lovemore Madhuku that only President Robert Mugabe could remove Mutambara from the post of Deputy Prime Minister.

“The Global Political Agreement stipulates that one of the Deputy Prime Ministers and a certain number of ministers should come from MDC (M),” said Mushoriwa.

“Legally, any changes can be done but right now we do not want to do the job of the standing committee before it is even elected.”

Party insiders Sunday told NewsDay Mutambara was most likely to be moved to Ncube’s portfolio.

“It only makes sense for Mutambara to take over Ncube’s old position. In any case he will be more qualified to run that ministry,” said a party source speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The GPA states that Robert Mugabe shall be President and Morgan Tsvangirai Prime Minister and goes on to say the two MDC formations will provide a Deputy Prime Minister each without mentioning names. Technically this means that Mutambara can be recalled as DPM.”

Another party source said Mutambara’s redeployment would depend on his ego.

“It remains to be seen if he will agree to change from a DPM to a minister,” the source said.

“However, in the event that Ncube is elevated to the presidency, the most logical thing is that he should be DPM. It does not make sense that the party’s most senior person holds an inferior position to someone who has lost support of the party members.”

“After the congress, names will be forwarded to President Mugabe for the changes to be effected. So when he (President Mugabe) comes from his annual leave, chances are high that he will be swearing in a new DPM and ministers.”

The robotics professor, who switched academics for politics, said a fortnight ago that he would not stand for the party presidency or any other post at the congress where fireworks were imminent.

Mutambara was invited by party secretary-general Welshman Ncube to lead MDC-M in February 2006 following the split of the MDC in 2005 over participation in that year’s Senate election called by Zanu PF.

The DPM, widely viewed in political circles as a bundle of confusion, said the congress had caused divisions in his party, but hoped his withdrawal from the race would lead to unity.

Mutambara was a student activist between 1988 and 1989, leading anti-government protests at the University of Zimbabwe which led to his arrest and imprisonment.

His critics have, however, accused him of being President Mugabe’s praise singer, one of the reasons why his popularity has nosedived.

Ncube was Sunday quoted in the media as saying Mutambara would not be recalled. He however said in the same report the party’s standing committee had the powers to make such decisions. – NewsDay