‘I’m the GNU stabilising factor’

DEPUTY Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, who is entangled in a drawn out court battle with Welshman Ncube over the leadership of the smaller MDC formation, says his record of rising above party politics makes his political future bright irrespective of which party wins next year’s critical elections.

Report by Elias Mambo

Mutambara said this in an exclusive interview with the Zimbabwe Independent this week although he preferred to dwell on government issues only. He however promised to talk on political issues including his fall-out with Ncube next week.

Mutambara said he has been the stabilising factor and troubleshooter in the shaky tripartite coalition government often characterised by open acrimony among the parties, successfully operating above party politics for the good of the country instead of scoring cheap political points.

“My approach has always been different from others because my focus is on what is of national interest and I stay away from partisan aspirations and personal agendas,” said Mutambara.

“I have been the glue that has kept government players together and focused. Whenever there has been bickering which had elements of partisanship and party posturing, I have managed to unlock value by bringing the players together,” he said.

The robotics professor-cum-politician said he has often found himself in troubled waters in the coalition government but has always managed to come up with solutions aimed at benefiting the country.

Mutambara currently chairs the inter-ministerial taskforce established to resolve the Save Conservancy crisis following the invasion and subsequent partitioning of the country’s richest wildlife conservancy, the largest private wildlife sanctuary in the world, by Zanu PF leaders and army commanders.

Mugabe has blasted the invasions saying they were motivated by “greed”. He warned they could be damaging and costly to Zanu PF as it prepares for elections next year.

“The Save Conservancy is work in progress and within the next two weeks we will have a solution to the crisis,” Mutambara said.

Mutambara has also chaired the committee on the Chisumbanje ethanol project in which Zanu PF and the MDC-T were involved in a turf war to control the project.

“I have managed to resolve these crises that cut across the political divide because there is more that unites us as Zimbabweans than politics,” he said.

Mutambara stepped down as MDC leader by choosing not to stand for re-election at the party’s congress in January last year where Ncube was elected unopposed. He said then “the time has come to hand over the baton to another individual”.
Mutambara later made a dramatic about turn and challenged the validity of Ncube’s election claiming he had breached party procedures to ascend to the leadership.

Mutambara challenged Ncube’s election at the High Court in Bulawayo and lost the case. He has since lodged an appeal which is pending at the Supreme Court.

By appealing to the Supreme Court, Mutambara is accused of abusing the court system to prolong his stay as deputy premier helped in no small measure by President Robert Mugabe who is seen as using him as a political stick with which to beat an increasingly vocal and aggressive Ncube.

Contrary to views that he is politically finished and has no legitimate claim to the MDC presidency, Mutambara said he firmly believes he will ride on the successes he has achieved in the inclusive government and still has a role to play in rebuilding Zimbabwe.

“Besides that, we are in an inclusive government where there is competition by cabinet ministers and party politics.

“My belief has always been that we stay above politics and suspend all our differences for the duration of the coalition so that the GNU (government of national unity) can deliver,” Mutambara said.

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