Following the January 8-9 congress that saw Ncube taking over from Mutambara as party president, the MDC’s standing committee subsequently recommended that the former should also take-over as DPM, with the latter being deployed as Regional Integration Minister, a position currently held by the party‘s secretary general Priscilla Misihairabwi.
Misihairabwi in turn was recommended to take-over Ncube’s current portfolio at the Ministry of Industry and International Trade.
But addressing a press conference in Harare, Mutambara said he would not relinquish his position as deputy premier on four grounds: that he was occupying a national not party position; that there are no constitutional legal grounds for redeploying a principal under a coalition agreement he signed with President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai; that the validity of Ncube’s election is being challenged in the High Court and finally that he is in Parliament not on a party ticket but as a non-constituency member appointed by Mugabe.
“The office of DPM is a creature of constitutional of Zimbabwe by virtue of Constitutional Amendment 19 Act. Accordingly, it is an office of State. As an office of State, it exists to serve the people of Zimbabwe regardless of race, tribe, sex, political party affiliation or religion. The office of the DPM does not serve one political party,” said Mutambara.
He added: “Arthur Mutambara, the DPM of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Arthur Mutambara the president of a political party in Zimbabwe are two different persons. The former is governed by the national interest and collective non-partisan aspirations, while the latter is a functionary of political party idiosyncrasies.
“I have no intention whatsoever to leave the position of DPM in the inclusive government. I will not abdicate my national responsibilities in order to satisfy narrow party-political aspirations.
“In our national constitution, there is no facility for a political party to recall a sitting DPM. In the GPA [Global Political Agreement], there is no provision to remove a GPA principal.”
Mutambara said he does not recognise Ncube as the new MDC leader, insisting that after the January congress, which he repeatedly referred as a meeting, he had neither condemned nor accepted the new order.
The deputy premier said he had not participated at the congress, only giving opening remarks before congress where he urged those gathered to address two issues: the boycott of critical members such as the national chairperson, who is convener of congress, in addition to the boycott of the women’s wing and youth wing chairpersons as well as a significant number of national council members.
“I was silent until today, because I was hoping that those claiming party leadership would be creative and magnanimous, and follow through and heal the party as I had suggested,” said Mutambara.
“The opposite has happened. Those who are claiming leadership started victimising the aggrieved leaders and party cadres, and seizing party assets from them, removing them from national programmes such as COPAC.
“There were and continue to be attacks back and forth in the media, and of course there is the challenge of legitimacy of the meeting itself. Furthermore, the party is disintegrating with groups leaving to join other parties, as witnessed recently in Chitungwiza,” said Mutambara.
“This is a sad state of the MDC party. It means that beyond establishing legitimacy through the courts, those claiming leadership of the MDC have to embark on political processes to establish their political and moral legitimacy among party members and the nation at large. Until all this is done, they cannot effectively represent the party and neither can they speak authoritatively on its behalf.”
MDC vice president Edwin Mushoriwa said Mutambara was undermining the party and as such it would meet in due course to review his utterances and the outcome of a meeting between Ncube and President Mugabe slated for Tuesday.
He added that Mutambara was being influenced by Zanu PF as some of the individuals who filed the court action were recently paraded on ZBC saying they had joined President Mugabe’s party.
“His utterances go contrary to what he said at congress. Are we surprised as a party? No, we are not surprised by the sudden u-turn because if you read his statement he is regurgitating the very venom that Zanu PF has been singing in the past few weeks,” said Mushoriwa.