THE Arthur Mutambara-led MDC has re-established its grip on rebellious MPs who last month struck a deal with Morgan Tsvangiraiâ€™s formation and voted for Lovemore Moyo as Speaker of the House of Assembly against their own candidate.
Authoritative sources said the Mutambara formation recently warned the MPs that they would be expelled from the party and lose their parliamentary seats if they defy their leaders in future.
The sources said the party leadership reined in the legislators after last weekâ€™s signing of an inclusive government deal between Mutambara, Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe.
The three parties agreed, among other things, that for one year should any “electoral vacancy arise in respect of a local authority or parliamentary seat, for whatever reason, only the party holding that seat prior to the vacancy occurring shall be entitled to nominate and field a candidate to fill the seat subject to that party complying with the rules governing its internal democracy”.
The sources said Mutambaraâ€™s party told the rebellious MPs that it would use this provision to expel them and nominate loyal members to fill the parliamentary seats.
“The MPs now have an axe hanging over their heads,” one of the sources said. “The party leadership now has re-established its grip on the legislators and they have to tag along with what the party says if they are to save their jobs.”
Seven out of 10 MPs from Mutambaraâ€™s MDC voted alongside Tsvangirai legislators to elect Moyo Speaker of the House of Assembly.
This was despite the Mutambara formation sponsoring former Gwanda MP Paul Themba Nyathi.
Moyo polled 110 votes against Nyathiâ€™s 98, despite the fact MDC-Tsvangirai had 99 MPs in parliament on the day of voting.
Moyoâ€™s election has since been challenged in the High Court by independent legislator Jonathan Moyo saying the MDC-T legislators violated the principle of secret voting.
Moyo said the MDC-T MPs showed their ballot papers to the partyâ€™s deputy president Thokozani Khupe, secretary-general Tendai Biti, chief whip Innocent Gonese and spokesperson Nelson Chamisa after voting.
Moyoâ€™s application seeking the nullification of the election of the Speaker is being backed by three MPs from the Mutambara faction â€” Moses Mzila Ndlovu, Patrick Dube and Siyabonga Ncube.
Meanwhile, despite the current impasse on sharing cabinet posts between Tsvangirai and Mugabe, it is understood Mutambaraâ€™s camp will head the ministries of Education, Sports, Arts and Culture; Industry and Commerce; and Regional Integration and International Trade.
Authoritative sources said Mutambara was allocated the ministries without hitches when he met Mugabe and Tsvangirai last Thursday.
During the meeting, Mugabe and Tsvangirai disagreed on which ministries their parties should have, with Zanu PF reportedly insisting on taking key ministries, among them Defence, Home Affairs, Local Government and Finance.
According to the deal, Zanu PF will have 15 ministers, MDC-T 13 and MDC-Mutambara three. Zanu PF will also have eight deputy ministers, MDC-T six and MDC-Mutambara one.
â€œThere were no problems with negotiations on the Mutambara side,â€ one of the sources said. â€œHe managed to secure the posts that his party wanted without any hitches and Mutambara spent most of his time watching Tsvangirai and Mugabe slugging it out for the remaining ministries.â€
The sources said the Mutambara faction also managed to secure the deputy Foreign Affairs post.
Edwin Mushoriwa, the MDC-Mutambara formation spokesperson, confirmed to the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday that some ministries were allocated to his party.
However, he declined to reveal the portfolios arguing that â€œthings may changeâ€ when the principals meet to finalise the allocation upon the return to Zimbabwe of Mugabe from New York.
â€œIt would not be correct to say that we are happy with the ministries we were allocated,â€ Mushoriwa said. â€œThe negotiating process is ongoing and there might be more compromises when the principals meet.â€
By Loughty Dube