'Zuma and SADC must respect me' – Mutambara

Stung by Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders' recognition of his rival Welshman Ncube as the president of the smaller MDC faction, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara has written to South African President Jacob Zuma on a series of disputed issues which he says are affecting his position.

In his letter to Zuma, Mutambara says SADC leaders and South Africa’s facilitation team should not acknowledge Ncube as the leader of the now renamed MDC-N, because his position was being challenged in the courts. He further accuses Ncube and the MDC-N’s Global Political Agreement (GPA) negotiators, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Moses Mzila Ndlovu, of abusing their posts to settle internal political problems within the warring party.

\r\n

Mutambara tells Zuma, the SADC facilitator in Zimbabwe, that if Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Mzila Ndlovu did not change their approach, he would “withdraw” them as GPA negotiators.

\r\n

Ncube and the MDC-N say they have expelled Mutambara and his supporters, who they describe as President Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF surrogates, from the party in the aftermath of its controversial January congress, which triggered the power struggle.

\r\n

However, Mutambara, who withdrew from the race against Ncube, allowing him to take over the leadership uncontested, and his group claim they have expelled Ncube from the party. The issue has spilled into a court battle. Mutambara has been barred by the High Court from claiming to be the party leader, although his position as deputy prime minister has not been affected.

\r\n

“As you are aware, there have been some leadership differences in my party, MDC, which have led to court proceedings. My approach to these challenges has been to handle them in such a manner that there is minimal disruption to the GPA dialogue and the implementation thereof,” Mutambara says in the letter.

\r\n

“Unfortunately, the two negotiators our party has kept in the process, with my blessing (Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Moses Mzila Ndlovu), are now abusing both the GPA process and the other four negotiators by seeking to settle internal party differences through the negotiations. This must not be permitted.”

\r\n

Mutambara states the party has been renamed from the MDC-M to MDC-N and should not participate in the GPA processes. He further says Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Mzila Ndlovu have tried to define the term “principal” in the GPA to mean a party political leader in the elections road map, as a strategy to remove him as party leader and as deputy prime minister.

\r\n

“Specifically, in the GPA road map under discussion, they have sought to rename our party MDC-Ncube and yet, in the GPA, the name is explicitly indicated as MDC-Mutambara. This is violation of the GPA, as there is no succession clause allowing them to do so. The negotiators have no mandate to rewrite the GPA.

\r\n

“Secondly, the two negotiators have sought to put a definition of a GPA principal (as president of a party) in the road map,” he says.

\r\n

“Again, this is a total abuse of the GPA process as they are aware that so far the courts of Zimbabwe have explicitly denied them this definition. They went to court seeking to stop me acting as president of the party and also to stop me acting as GPA principal, as two separate requests.

\r\n

“This is acknowledgement that the two functions are different.”

\r\n

Mutambara says the court did not stop him being deputy prime minister – a resolve endorsed by Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai – and that Zuma must respect this. – TimesLive