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Three Months Into Power Sharing, Fault Lines Appear in Zimbabwean Parties

The Movement for Democratic Change formation of Zimbabwean Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara moved Friday to quell a revolt against Mutambara and other party chiefs by suspending six officials, including three sitting members of parliament.

Parliamentarians Abednico Bhebhe, Njabuliso Mguni and Norman Mpofu are accused with three other party officials of organizing illegal rallies and denouncing the party and its leadership.

The Movement for Democratic Change split in 2006 leaving the main formation headed by MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai, now prime minister, and Bulawayo-centered grouping which eventually recruited Mutambara as its president.

The politicians suspended from the Mutambara formation are also charged with gross indiscipline and dismantling party structures around the country.

Their suspension reduces the size of the party’s House caucus from 10 to seven. The party could expel the rogue members – but would risk losing the seats if all political parties do not respect the Global Political Agreement of September 2008 setting out the terms of power-sharing, under which legislative vacancies would be filled by the party holding the seat.

Lyson Mlambo, chairman of the party's disciplinary committee, said that if the legislators are expelled, the party will simply choose replacements, telling reporter Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the six officials went too far in dissenting.

Lawmaker Bhebhe, among the suspended, dismissed the move as meaningless.

President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party has its own problems, meanwhile.

Sources said divisions in the former ruling party could undermine the unity government.

They said the ZANU_PF faction led by retired general Solomon Mujuru is accusing the faction headed by Emmerson Mnangagwa, said to be very close to Mr. Mugabe and in line to succeed him, of trying to sabotage the so-called all-inclusive government.

The Mnangagwa faction, backed by hardliners in the top ranks of the security services, is said to have flexed its muscle by ordering Attorney General Johannes Tomana to re-arrest rights activist Jestina Mukoko and others this week, and instigating new farm invasions.

Insiders said the Mnangagwa faction fears the MDC will be credited with any successes of the unity government, reducing ZANU-PF's chances of regaining political control.

ZANU-PF insiders predict more strife with a five-year national congress due in December. Mnangagwa's faction is said to be aiming to remove Vice President Joyce Mujuru.

Reached for comment, Mnangagwa said talk of factionalism and sabotage was “nonsense.”

Cape Town-based analyst Glen Mpani told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that ZANU_PF does not seem to know how to mend the divisions - which are not new but have been sharpened by the new and more fluid political dispensation.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...