25 July 2009: Mutambara Fight Gets Messy
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, seen here with his wife, Mugabe and Tsvangirai at the burial of former Defence Forces Chief General Zvinavashe at the Heroes Acre, is in a bit of a pickle, with his own MPs, who rebelled and started campaigning against him, escalating their fight against him, refusing to attend disciplinary hearings, taking the matter to court and threatening a "political" fight. It's getting messy.
I broke the story about the rebellion in the MDC Mutambara on this blog in April of this year in an article entitled Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara about to be fired.
There was a flurry of activity after that article and even media outside Zimbabwe called me to see if they could speak to my source.
A little while later, all hell broke loose, rallies were held at which Mutambara was denounced by Job Sikhala, Bhebhe and others as a sell-out.
Mutambara reacted swiftly. The MPs were suspended from the MDC-M (by the way, the official title of the so-called MDC-M is just MDC, they won the fight to retain the name MDC and it was Tsvangirai who decided to give his party his own surname and stamp it as personal property).
The suspended MPs are refusing to vacate their seats in parliament. They walked out of a disciplinary hearing called by the MDC. They have gone ahead and acquired brand new vehicles through the parliamentarians' loan scheme.
When questioned by the media, their answer has been essentially only one:
"Hell no, we won't go!"
Apart from this, they have approached the High Court for relief. The MPs position is that the disciplinary hearing is "bogus" and that grassroots structures were not consulted as allegedly provided for in the MDC constitution.
There is an interesting subtext to all this.
You will recall that one of the MPs, Abednico Bhebhe, was originally given a cabinet post by Tsvangirai when the Prime Minister announced his line-up of Ministers for the GNU.
Mutambara protested and Bhebhe was withdrawn.
It is also said it was Bhebhe who led MDC MPs away from an agreed deal for Speaker of Parliament, where MDC MPs were urged to vote for the ZANU PF candidate and deny Lovemore Moyo the Speaker's Chair.
Mutambara thought all was going according to plan until a well-executed move within the walls of parliament itself, minutes before the vote, derailed his plans. There were allegatons of vote buying leveled against Tsvangirai's party, promises of favours and even money changing hands.
The appointment of Bhebhe by Tsvangirai at the time was a dead give-away, as it was reward for what Bhebhe had done for the MDC-T in parliament.
Bhebhe, especially, is outspoken in his defiance and says he and his suspended comrades will "fight them (the MDC-M) politically".
He is certain that should they lose the fight with their party, they will win any by-election called. It is almost certain that they would run as MDC-T candidates. Bhebhe believes the Tsvangirai party still has weight. Combine this with each MPs own personal popularity in their area, and Bhebhe believes it will all be a walk-over.
There is no denying that the whole thing is getting messy.
For Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara, this was an opportunity for him to assert his authority over his party. But it is turning out different.
If the rebels do win out in the end (and there is no saying for sure how this thing will go), then this would mortally wound the authority of the Deputy PM.