MDC vice-president Gibson Sibanda has lost his ministerial post in the inclusive government after failing to secure a parliamentary seat within three months of his appointment to cabinet.
Plans by the three principals to the global political agreement â€” President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara â€” to create a non-constituency seat either in the House of Assembly or Senate for Sibanada hit a brickwall.
The former president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions was appointed one of three Ministers of State for National Healing and Reconciliation on the strength that he would find a constituency within three months as stipulated in the constitution. The grace period lapsed on May 19.
Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma this week told the Zimbabwe Independent that Sibanda was yet to become a legislator and that there was no notice to indicate a vacancy he could fill.
â€œSibanda is not a member of parliament and I have not been informed that there is a vacancy in any of the two houses,â€ Zvoma said. â€œFor him to be a member he has to secure a seat. Failure to secure a set might affect his position as a minister since he has to secure one within three months of his appointment.â€
The MDC exhausted the slots it had of appointing non-constituency lawmakers when the inclusive government was formed.
Sibanda, however, still has a chance to bounce back into cabinet if one of his partyâ€™s MPs agrees to take up a gubernatorial or diplomatic post in the coming months and allow him to contest for the vacant seat.
Sources within the MDC said the party was still weighing three options for Sibanda.
The sources said one option would be for the party to appoint Mangwe MP Edward Mkhosi as governor of Matabeleland South and give Sibanda an opportunity to contest in that constituency.
The sources said the second option would see Insiza North MP Siyabonga Malandu appointed a diplomat to make room for Sibanda.
Tsvangirai a fortnight ago announced that as part of the deal to solve outstanding issues in the GPA, the three principals had agreed that out of the five available diplomatic vacancies, the MDC-T would get four and the MDC one.
The sources said the third option the MDC-M had was to appoint the partyâ€™s director of elections, Paul Themba Nyathi, as the governor of Matabeleland South and fire one of the suspended MPs and allow Sibanda to contest in the vacant constituency.
The suspended MPs are Abednico Bhebhe (Nkayi South), Njabuliso Mguni (Lupane East), Norman Mpofu (Bulilima East), Maxwell Dube (Tsholotsho South) and Thandeko Zinti Mkandla (Gwanda North).
â€œThe party leadership is still weighing the options (but) all options however are not safe as there is a chance Sibanda might not win if challenged by an independent candidate,â€ said one of the sources.
The source said the most viable option the party had was to appoint Malandu as a diplomat and let Sibanda contest in his constituency.
The source said Sibanda was respected in Insiza South since he came from the area.
MDC spokesperson Edwin Mushoriwa referred all questions pertaining to Sibandaâ€™s case to the partyâ€™s deputy secretary-general Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga who was not reachable for comment.
However, the sources said it will be catastrophic for the Mutambara faction to fire the MPs it suspended for it risked losing the constituencies to the same individuals if they stood as independents.
â€œThis has been made clear to Mutambara that he risked losing some of the seats the party has if he approved plans to fire the suspended MPs,â€ said another source.
BY LOUGHTY DUBE