'Mutambara not with us'

HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says deputy PM Arthur Mutambara can no longer consider himself  a principal in the coalition government, as the guarantors to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) Sadc has discarded him.

Tsvangirai forged a formidable alliance with Industry minister Welshman Ncube to floor President Robert Mugabe over upcoming elections in Maputo, Mozambique last week during the extra-ordinary Sadc summit on Zimbabwe.

The development comes days after Mutambara’s MDC faction, dumped him as their leader.

Speaking to the Daily News this week Tsvangirai said: “It is clear from the Sadc meeting that Mutambara is no longer considered a principal and the legitimate one is Ncube,” he said.

 “From now on, it is important for everyone to appreciate that whenever we discuss matters of the GPA, President Mugabe, Ncube and I, are in charge,” the Zimbabwean PM said, adding he does not recognise Mutambara as a principal.

As efforts to secure comment from the robotics professor —through calls and text messages to his mobile drew blanks — the rare act of cooperation between Ncube and Tsvangirai has also brightened prospects of a strong coalition against the embattled 89-year-old leader.

Tsvangirai’s position further piles up the misery on the embattled deputy premier — who was recently booted out from his MDC faction in a palace coup which accused him of neglecting party business — as he had become a “president” without a political party.

Despite the fact that, in 2011, the High Court ruled Ncube to be the official president of the breakaway MDC formation, Mutambara took the matter to the Supreme Court — which is yet to make a determination, giving him a lifeline to continue as a principal.

With Tsvangirai ganging up with Ncube, Mutambara has been left clinging, not only to the pending court ruling, but also Mugabe’s mercy.

Ncube said the position of MDC still stands that Mutambara ceased to be a principal when his congress decided so — two years ago.

“We have not changed and we do not know why he still represents us. It is the leadership of MDC that determines who is supposed to represent them not a court of law. If another congress was to be convened now, the same position would come out because there is a unilateral agreement on the issue,” Ncube told the Daily News yesterday.

George Charamba, the presidential spokesperson, was unreachable for comment yesterday.

In Maputo on Saturday during the explosive regional meeting, the two MDC leaders put up a spirited fight to thwart Mugabe’s efforts to hold election by July 31 before the agreed media, security and electoral reforms stipulated in the GPA.

The 15-member regional body agreed that more time was needed and recommended that Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa applies to the Constitutional Court for a two-week extension to pave way for the key reforms.

Together with Zanu PF — the ambivalent Mutambara has been singing from the same hymn on the court ruling saying it was binding and final — diverging from the position of the party he represents in the GPA.

Mugabe made the proclamation last Thursday, a week after the Constitutional Court ruled that elections be held by July 31.

However, with the recent summit resolution, Zanu PF is likely to concoct a veiled climb-down through conceding to Nixon Nyikadzino, who has approached the same court protesting a ruling in favour of directing that elections be held by July 31.

Tsvangirai argues that there is certainly a risk that could paralyse efforts for a better Zimbabwe and deeper integration if elections are held on Mugabe’s proclaimed date.

Following a Cabinet decision last Tuesday, fresh voter registration commenced on June 10 and is expected to be completed on July 10, 2013.

Hence the July 31 deadline, Tsvangirai argued, would infringe on the Constitutional provisions obliging the 30-day intense voter registration exercise and automatically deny Zimbabweans two weeks of entering the voters’ roll.

Tsvangirai told regional leaders that elections in Zimbabwe have never been about the date but the process and conditions under which it is held hence the need to ensure that they are legitimate, credible and sustainable.

Mugabe’s Zanu PF accused MDC leaders of seeking to extend their four-and-a-half year stay in government by delaying the game-changing election.

Some political commentators are on record saying the two-week extension, if granted, is still too short for any meaningful legislative, media and security sector reforms ahead of watershed polls.

The new Constitution requires that the new provisions for the Electoral Law be passed by Parliament and not made by regulation in terms of another Act such as the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act, which unilaterally Mugabe used. - Wendy Muperi and Fungi Kwaramba

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