MDC president Welshman Ncube announced at the weekend that he would be taking over from Mutambara as Deputy Premier after was he was elected the party’s leader at its congress early this month.
Ncube said Mutambara would be re-assigned to the portfolio of Regional Integration and International Co-operation Minister, and Ncube’s sidekick party secretary general Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga taking over as Industry and Commerce Minister.
Mutambara – who left the country on Sunday to attend the World Economic Forum in Switzerland – has not commented on his reassignment.
He is rumoured to be planning to form his own party.
Still, the state-run Herald newspaper claimed that he had discussed his future plans with a senior government official before leaving Harare and would “soon” make public his intentions.
Education Minister David Coltart, who is also a senior member of the MDC, refused to comment on the speculation.
“I was not there at the meeting (on Sunday) when the decision was made [to reassign Mutambara] and I don’t know if he has been formally informed ,” Coltart said.
“I don’t think he will reject the reassignment because he is someone who can do well in that portfolio as he is respected in the region.”
Constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku claimed Ncube’s reshuffle would require the endorsement of President Robert Mugabe.
“There are only two options available in this case; that DPM Mutambara has to resign or else President Mugabe has to dismiss him. If Mutambara refuses to go and President Mugabe does not dismiss him, there is nothing Ncube can do,” Madhuku claimed.
“What if President Mugabe says I cannot dismiss Mutambara because he is competent in government and has only lost a mere party election? It’s (Mugabe’s) constitutional right and there is nothing Ncube can do about that.”
But Professor Jonathan Moyo of Zanu PF said the "political reality" was that Mutambara had to accept the demotion to remain a "credible politician".
“It is in his interest to remain cool because in that case he may be a recipient of God’s mercy. He may be surprised to get many opportunities including being invited by other parties,” he said.
“He should accept with humility serving as Regional Integration Minister because Prof Ncube just wants to provoke him into leaving the post so that he can replace him with one of his own cronies.”