Mutambara 'fires' Welshman Ncube

Harare,- The new President of the smaller faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Professor Welshman Ncube has been fired from the party by former president and deputy prime minister of Zimbabwe, Professor Arthur Mutambara.\r\n

Mutambara convened a press conference on Tuesday evening ahead of a national council meeting of his party to decide on his fate after he defied calls to step down as deputy prime minister to pave way for the newly elected president of the party, Ncube.

"I had to take a very drastic decision to salvage the image of the party. To salvage the integrity of our movement and the decision sion is to immediately expel from our party, Professor Welshman Ncube," Mutambara told journalists at a media conference at his Munhumutapa offices in Harare.

"As the legitimate president of the MDC I have taken the decision to immediately expel Welshman Ncube from our party. Because we feel that if we continue on this road of disagreement and discord in our party we will damage the image of our party."

Mutambara said Ncube was no longer allowed to speak on behalf of the party. Mutambara on Monday said he did not recognise the leadership of Ncube saying he was not properly elected at the national party congress. He argued that the convener of the congress, the then chairperson, Joubert Mudzumwe did not attend the congress as per the country’s constitution.

Ncube has already met in talks with President Robert Mugabe over the issue to remove Mutambara from his post as per the recommendations of the party’s national executive committee.

Mugabe has said he needs to consult Tsvangirai on Ncube’s drive to push Mutambara out of government. Mutambara on Monday said:"I have no intention whatsoever to leave the position of deputy minister in the inclusive government. I will not abdicate from my national responsibilities in order to satisfy narrow party-political aspirations."

He said under the Global Political Agreement (GPA), there was no provision to remove a sitting deputy prime minister.

“As the legitimate president of the MDC, I have taken the decision to immediately expel Professor Welshman Ncube from our party because we feel that if we continue on this road of disagreement and discord in our party, we will damage the image of our party.

“This decision of expulsion will be ratified by our national council, by due process and constitutional provisions.”

The robotics professor was flanked by Tsitsi Dangarembwa, the former chairman Joubert Mudzumwe and ex-youth leader Costa Chipadza who are joined in a court application seeking to annul Ncube’s election at the congress which Mutambara attended.

But Mutambara’s latest attempts to forestall his expulsion were immediately dismissed as “nonsensical” by Ncube.

Stunned Ncube was quick to give a statement to his website Newzimbabwe.com: “Arthur Mutambara is an ordinary member of the MDC. Even if he were leader, there are only two ways in which a party member can be expelled – and a press conference is not one of them.”

Ncube explained that the party’s constitution granted powers of expelling a member to the national council which must vote in favour of such an action by a two thirds majority; or alternatively the member would have to be summoned by the disciplinary committee which can make a decision to terminate their membership.

“We could never as a democratic party have a situation where one person sits and decide the fate or everyone else. Even the national council itself can’t do it without a clear two thirds majority,” Ncube said by telephone from Harare. 

He added: “It’s all rather nonsensical. We must really make an apology to the people of Zimbabwe that we are involved in this circus. We really should be paying attention to the needs of the people, but regrettably we are starring in this circus that Professor Mutambara is making.

“We promise the people of Zimbabwe that we will bring this circus to a very swift end tomorrow. We regret that we are participants in a comedy which represents the lowest depth in Zimbabwe politics. Our only consolation is that we as a party have corrected our mistake where we had a lunatic in charge of the asylum.”

Mutambara was served with an official letter from the party’s vice president Edwin Mushoriwa on Wednesday morning, in line with the party’s constitution which requires notice to be given to a member who is being considered for expulsion.

The letter allows Mutambara to make written submissions to the national council or address the national council in person – options which he appears to have decided not to exercise.

Mutambara was served with an official letter from the party’s vice president Edwin Mushoriwa on Wednesday morning in line with the party’s constitution which requires notice to be given to a member who is being considered for expulsion.

The letter allows Mutambara to make written submissions to the national council or address the national council in person – options which he appears to have decided not to exercise.

Mutambara appeared to have accepted the leadership changes until the MDC’s standing committee met and decided to re-assign its officers in the coalition government which started work in February 2009.

The reshuffle would have seen Ncube becoming the new Deputy Prime Minister, with Mutambara moving to the post of Regional Integration Minister. Priscilla Misihairabwi, currently Regional Integration Minister, would take over Ncube’s old job.

Mutambara insists that as a signatory to a power sharing agreement with Zanu PF leader Robert Mugabe and rival MDC faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai inked in September 2008, his position is guaranteed.

“I would never have taken the oath to serve this country in the office of Deputy Prime Minister if I had not committed myself to serve this country faithfully for the entire duration of the inclusive government,” he said on Monday.

But while the power sharing agreement, now part of the constitution, specifically designates the presidency to Mugabe and the premiership to Tsvangirai, it only states that the two MDC factions shall second a Deputy Prime Minister each.