REPORTS last week claimed Professor Welshman Ncube, the secretary-general of the MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara, had â€œdoctoredâ€ the power-sharing agreement document signed by President Mugabe and his opposition rivals on September 15.
Ncube tells SW Radio Africaâ€™s Violet Gonda that the claims are a malicious fabrication.
Welshman Ncube: (The allegations) can only be the product of people who are extremely malicious, who have no journalistic ethics, who run with a stupid false story without even the decency of talking to the people who are accused of the fraudulent alteration of a document. As far as I know I did not take part nor participate in any alteration of any agreement at all.
The fact of the matter is that yes there are alterations in the document which was signed by the principals on the 15th. Â
We all have three copies or three versions of the agreement. The first version of the agreement is that which we as the negotiators negotiated and signed each page. All the six negotiators signed and authenticated each page so each of the six of us can check if there are any alterations against the originals which we signed as negotiators.
The second document was signed by the principals when agreement was reached on the 11th of September 2008 and it is that document which is constitutive â€“â€“ we make reference to that.
The document which was then signed by the parties at the formal ceremony on the 15th of September was just a formal document which is not constitutive, which was simply a formal public ceremony to give effect to something which had already been agreed previously… That is the second document (Sept 11th) and it is correct.
So the first two documents are correct. The third document which was signed at the formal ceremony on the 15th of September has three alterations or three omissions â€“â€“ if I may call them that. As far as we know we have raised this with Zanu PF and (Patrick) Chinamasa whose Ministry of Justice was responsible for producing the final document which was to be signed by the principals.
Minister Chinamasa has freely admitted that he made one of those alterations because â€“â€“ he explains â€“â€“ he was advised by his principal (Robert Mugabe) that the three principals â€“â€“ Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara and Robert Mugabe â€“â€“ had agreed to alter the document to that effect. And as far as we know that is not correct. We have indicated that our principal told us he never agreed on such an alteration. We have checked with our principal (Mutambara) who denies that he ever agreed to change the document to that effect.
And that particular change is a change in the original that we negotiated and agreed. It was to provide that the five existing Senate seats shall go to Zanu PF. There shall be created an additional six Senate seats â€” four of which will go to Morgan Tsvangiraiâ€™s MDC and two of which will go to Arthur Mutambaraâ€™s MDC. It is that clause which Chinamasa altered to read that the existing five will go to Zanu PF and there shall be created an additional nine â€” three to be shared equally among the three parties. That was never part of the agreement. It is an invention of Patrick Chinamasa and he admits that he is the one who put it there.
The South Africans were not involved. We were not involved. I was not involved.
Violet Gonda: Before you go to the next clauses or the next issues that were deleted. Just to be fair, you mentioned that there are some people with malicious intent who accuse you of doctoring this agreement and you mentioned one of our reporters here. But to be fair, if you read the story that he wrote he actually says it is the Tsvangirai MDC that has accused Patrick Chinamasa, yourself and Thabo Mbekiâ€™s representative Mujanku Gumbi of tampering with the document.
Ncube: That might be so but the story does not say who in the MDC Tsvangirai has made that accusation and no journalist worth his salt would buy such a defamatory, malicious story, without in fact attributing to a specific person in MDC Tsvangirai who is making that accusation so that we can all confront that person, and if need be sue that person for defamation and for malicious defamation. The responsibilityâ€¦ (interrupted).
Gonda: But you know with the way the talks have been conducted â€“â€“ the secret nature of getting information has been difficult for journalists to get comment, even from officials who are engaged or directly involved in these negotiations. So journalists are left with no choice but to use unnamed sources in most of their stories because of the difficulties we face. Do you not agree that this could also have been a problem, a problem that was created by the politicians themselves?
Ncube: I donâ€™t agree Violet. These are no longer negotiations. This is now a public document on which someone is commenting on a public document which is out there in the public arena and if anyone claims that there is some misrepresentations, alterations in that document that person must be prepared to stand up to it. And any journalist who writes it must be able to say you surely must stand up and defend your accusations?â€™ You cannot simply say I shall be a nameless source to such a scandalous, such a defamation in my respectful view.
Gonda: So what other clausesâ€¦?
Ncube: But be that as it may, there are then two other paragraphs which are missing from the final document signed on the 15th. And these paragraphs which are missing, the first is the one which provides that anyone appointed Vice President or Prime Minister or Deputy Minister shall be ex officio members of the House of Assembly and should such a person already be a member of the House of Assembly, the party to which he or she belongs shall appoint a non-constituency member of the House of Assembly. That clause is completely missing and nothing replaces it. It just disappeared from the document.
Equally missing is a third clause which basically states that in the appointment of senior government positions such as Ambassadors and Permanent Secretaries â€“â€“ the President, the Vice Presidents, the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Ministers shall sit and agree on those appointments. That clause is also missing. Incidentally these two clauses come one after the other in the agreement and they are both missing.
And Patrick Chinamasa â€“â€“ when we have asked him, the Minister of Justice â€“â€“ he says he doesnâ€™t know what happened to them, he did not remove them, they must have dropped out of the electronic copy accidentally. And there is no dispute that they should be there, everyone accepts that they should be there. No-one knows how they were dropped off the agreement.
And in any event it is ridiculous for anyone to suggest that the South Africans would participate in such a fraudulent activity, they have no interest in it. Equally ridiculous is that we would or I would participate in removing clauses from an agreement â€“â€“ clauses which would allow my party represented by the Deputy Prime Minister to participate in the appointment of senior government employees; and indeed I will participate in removing a clause which creates a parliamentary seat for my President who is a Deputy Prime Minister. What interest would I have in actually subverting an agreement in such a way that the interests of my party to be represented are in fact compromised?
So it is pure nonsense for anyone to suggest that I would have participated in the alteration of a document in a manner which prejudices my party. You need to be a fool to actually believe such nonsense.
Gonda: So what is going to happen with the clauses that were deleted?
Ncube: It really doesnâ€™t matter because the constitutive agreement is the agreement which was signed on the 11th of September by the Principals. Those clauses are
there and that is the agreement. What happened on the 15th of September was merely a formal ceremony. The agreement is embodied in what was signed on the 11th of September.