14 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Mutambara Camp Hits Hard Times

DEPUTY Prime Minister (DPM) Arthur Mutambara's faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has hit hard times amid revelations his grouping is technically broke and is being funded from individual members' pockets.

DPM Mutambara's fortunes suffered a major blow recently when the party failed to access funds under the Political Parties Finance Act. The allocation went to the Welshman Ncube-led faction, which has a few legislators in Parliament.

Mutambara's faction is also suffering from donor fatigue, which has hit other fringe political parties in the country largely due to the European financial crisis.

The robotics professor was ousted from the MDC leadership by Ncube in a bloodless coup during an elective congress early last year.

He then formed a splinter group, triggering a plethora of legal challenges at the High Court in protest to Ncube's ascendency in the party.

But with no representation in Parliament, Mutambara has been viewed by critics as an opportunist who is more of an appendage to ZANU-PF.

The party's secretary-general, Maxwell Zimuto, confirmed that his formation of the MDC was broke.

"We are managing from hand to mouth. We are actually scrounging for resources," said Zimuto.

"We have a pending court case and would have expected that the funds (Political Parties Finance Act monies) were withheld until a decision is made but unfortunately we were told by Minister (Patrick) Chinamasa that the money would be given to the other group (Ncube's formation of the MDC)," he added.

Mutambara reportedly made frantic efforts to secure the money at the time it was disbursed in the first half of the year as he is said to have written two letters to Chinamasa, the Justice and Legal Affairs Minister, arguing that his group was entitled to the money instead of Ncube's MDC.

ZANU-PF, MDC and MDC-T formations were allocated US$8 million in the 2012 national budget to be shared proportionately according to the number of legislators each political party has in Parliament.

Asked how they will fund election campaigns in the face of a plebiscite expected at least by June next year, Zimuto said Mutambara's national council would meet soon to decide on how to proceed.

"We are funding ourselves. When I have money or the president (Mutambara) has money, that's when we call a meeting so that we can chart the way forward," said Zimuto revealing the desperate situation obtaining in his party.

While Mutambara's grouping has been hamstrung by lack of funds, the same cannot be said of his nemesis Ncube whose faction has been crisis-crossing the length and breadth of the country, holding political rallies as well as donating bicycles as part of the MDC's campaign strategy.

More so, in a show of financial muscle, the Ncube-led faction agreed to bear all costs in compensating members of the Mutambara faction who had been expelled from the Constitution Parliamentary Select Committee last January.

The fight for the heart and soul of the MDC has gone on for more than a year now. President Robert Mugabe has not helped matters by refusing to recognise Ncube as a principal to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) favouring instead, the robotics professor who signed the September 2008 agreement on behalf of the MDC before the split.

The Southern African Development Community, guarantors of the GPA, in August this year ruled that Mutambara was no longer a principal and recommended his replacement with Ncube.

At the Second All-Stakeholders' Conference to discuss the constitutional draft, Ncube declared; "We are the elected leadership and we know there is a case pending in the courts. Unless and until the courts rule otherwise there will be one MDC, which I lead."

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