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Mutambara saga persists

THE dramatic saga surrounding Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara’s position as principal in the coalition government and his involvement in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) process is raging despite Sadc’s clear pronouncement last weekend it would not deal with him, but his bitter rival Welshman Ncube, who leads the smaller MDC party.

Report by Elias Mambo

After its recent summit in Maputo, Mozambique, Sadc resolved the GPA parties must continue to implement their agreement and reforms, including the constitution-making process, and if there are any difficulties with regard to the constitution and implementation mechanism, the facilitator in Zimbabwe’s political dialogue, South African President Jacob Zuma, should be called upon to engage with President Robert Mugabe (Zanu PF), Prime Minister Morgan Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) and Industry and Trade minister Welshman Ncube (MDC).
This followed Zuma’s refusal to meet Mutambara last week during his visit to Harare to engage party political leaders ahead of the Maputo summit, saying the deputy premier did not have a party and was not involved directly in the constitution-making process as he had no negotiators and a Copac co-chairperson.
However, commenting on the issue for the first time since the Maputo summit withdrew its recognition of him as a principal, Mutambara told the Zimbabwe Independent this week Zuma and Sadc were trying to influence the outcome of his Supreme Court appeal against Ncube’s leadership of the MDC.
“The issue here is not about Mutambara or my being a principal or not, but it is now a constitutional matter over Zimbabwe’s sovereignty,” said Mutambara.
“There is no way Sadc and Zuma can pre-empt a Supreme Court issue. I have appealed and a Supreme Court appeal overrides any other judgment passed by lower courts.”
Faced with this problematic issue after the Sadc summit, Mugabe and Tsvangirai on Monday climbed down from their initial position of not recognising Ncube outright and ended up agreeing he would be recognised as a principal, but saved face by splitting political and legal matters. They said Ncube is now a principal on political but not government matters.
Mutambara, who initially acknowledged Ncube’s new leadership after the MDC congress following his withdrawal from the race last year before making a u-turn to latch onto a court challenge of the gathering’s legitimacy by his sympathisers, said although he lost two High Court cases to Ncube, he still believes he is a principal in the inclusive government.
“I have lost two cases, but the fact that I have appealed to the Supreme Court means that no one has the right to discuss cases under judicial review. It is sub judice,” said Mutambara. “Now, if I lose my appeal, then Sadc and Zuma would have contributed to that and it would no longer be a fair trial.”
Mutambara, who is actually not an applicant to the case, questioned what would happen in the event that he indirectly wins his appeal. “Will I have to go back to Sadc and Zuma and say, ‘Look, I have won my appeal; now make me a principal’?”
However, Ncube told the Independent that he met with Mugabe and MDC secretary-general Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga after Tuesday’s cabinet meeting to inform him that Mutambara had no mandate to represent the party and his participation in the principals’ meeting was purely in a personal capacity.
“We met after cabinet yesterday (Tuesday),” said Ncube. “Mugabe wants to continue working with Mutambara on purely government issues. Mugabe also said he will work with us on all political issues to deal with the elections road-map, political violence, Jomic (Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee) and the constitution-making process,” Ncube said.
Sources said Ncube met Mugabe armed with court papers to further argue his case that Mutambara had effectively lost his cases in court although an appeal was pending in the Supreme Court.
MDC director of policy and research, Qhubani Moyo, said Mutambara was being opportunistic because he was not even an applicant in the case now on appeal.
“First, Mutambara withdrew from the election before congress last year. Second, he later acknowledged Ncube’s election. And third, the legal position is that Mutambara is not an applicant in this case and did not even sign the affidavit in the appeal,” said Moyo.
“He is now trying to benefit from the loophole that the applicants want him to be their MDC leader even though he withdrew from the election in broad daylight and publicly endorsed Ncube.”
Moyo said Mutambara should not forget he acknowledged Ncube’s ascendancy, addressed congress and endorsed him as the new leader, saying he wanted to create a new culture in Zimbabwean politics in which political leaders smoothly pass the baton on to the next person.

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