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Mugabe Refuses Appointment of New Deputy Prime Minister

  • Peta Thornycroft

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (file photo)

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (file photo)

The new president of the small Movement for Democratic Change party, Welshman Ncube, has sought an appointment with President Robert Mugabe so he can be sworn into office as deputy prime minister of Zimbabwe. Our reporter informs that President Robert Mugabe says Arthur Mutambara, the outgoing deputy prime minister in the inclusive government, and also a member of the small MDC, must remain in his position.

Scientist Arthur Mutambara was voted out as president of the small MDC at its congress attended by 4,500 delegates in Harare last month.

Former secretary-general of the party, Welshman Ncube, had support from all 10 provinces and became party president after Mutambara withdrew from the contest for the top job.

Zimbabwe's inclusive government was formed two years ago after a political agreement was reached between Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party, which narrowly won the 2008 elections, Mr Mugabe’s Zanu PF party and the small MDC party then led by Mutambara.

Cabinet posts in the inclusive government were allocated in proportion to the number of votes each party scored in those elections.

This formula saw Mutambara entering government as a deputy prime minister.

At last week’s African Union summit in Addis Ababa, President Robert Mugabe was reported in the Zimbabwe state media as saying Mutambara would continue as deputy prime minister unless he resigned his post.

Ncube said Friday he was not sure why Mr. Mugabe believed he had any role to play in decisions made by the small MDC party's national executive.

"All we hear or read is what is in the media," said Ncube. "We do not know the extent that this reflects the position of Zanu PF or President Mugabe"

Ncube, presently industry minister, said his party executive had chosen him to be deputy prime minister and was offering Mutambara a position in the cabinet as minister of regional trade.

"It follows it is the prerogative of each party to say these are the people we are deploying to these positions reserved for us in the inclusive government," he said.

Ncube said shortly after the congress ended, 13 members of his party applied to the High Court to declare the party’s congress illegal.
The case has not yet been heard.

Zimbabwe’s state media reported Mr. Mugabe saying he would not swear Ncube in as deputy prime minister until this case has been adjudicated.

"Unless and until there is a court order setting aside our congress outcome, the legal position is that that congress outcome stands," said Ncube.

Mutambara did not respond to questions about his plans for the future.

The three political leaders, Mr Mugabe, Mr Tsvangirai, and now Welshman Ncube regularly meet with South African mediators to negotiate many outstanding issues of the multi party political agreement.

When the outstanding issues are resolved, and a new constitution is in place, Zimbabwe will hold new elections which will bring the inclusive government to an end.

Ncube said Friday he was certain that there would be no elections in Zimbabwe this year.

Mr Mugabe, who will be 87 later this month, says repeatedly that he is uncomfortable in the inclusive government and that he will call fresh elections this year, with or without a new constitution.