Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara has waded into the saga surrounding the dismissal of some members from his former party, insisting the leadership contest between him and Welshman Ncube is still on.
The Ncube led MDC, which got rid of Mutambara as party leader in January 2011, has dismissed a number of its members because of their allegiance to other parties. Deputy Speaker Nomalanga Khumalo (Umzingwane), Maxwell Dube (Tsholotsho South), Thandeko Mnkandla (Gwanda North) and Senators Dalumuzi Khumalo (Lupane) and Kembo Dube (Umzingwane) have all been dismissed.
49 councillors have also joined this list, while the MDC-N has also officially fired the already expelled legislators Abdenico Bhebhe (Nkayi South), Njabuliso Mguni (Bulilima East) and Norman Mpofu (Lupane East).
Party spokesperson Nhlanhla Dube told SW Radio Africa that this decision was based on their constitution, which dictates that "termination is automatic" when members openly support other parties. He said most of the former members were vocally supporting the MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, and were therefore no longer members of their party.
"We just wanted to clarify the situation. We think this atmosphere of feigning defection is unhealthy," Dube said.
Some of the members are also understood to still support Mutambara, who lost out to Ncube during a party congress in 2011 that voted overwhelmingly in Ncube's favour as the new MDC-N leader. Mutambara was also expelled from the party, which accused him of ignoring a directive to step down as the country's deputy Premier.
Mutambara went on to challenge the legality of the congress vote and insisted that he remained the party leader. However, two separate High Court bids have been unsuccessful and Mutambara has now turned to the Supreme Court to appeal.
He has now used this court process as the basis to write to the Senate, in defence of the members that have been dismissed from his old party. He argued in a letter on Tuesday that the legislators "were elected under my leadership as the President of the MDC."
"Both the issue of whether Welshman Ncube was duly elected President of the MDC in January 2011, and the matter of the legitimacy of the corresponding MDC Congress are before the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe. Consequently, all these issues are sub judice. Hence, the entire leadership led by Welshman Ncube, has no locus standi to expel members from the MDC. Hence they cannot purport to terminate the Parliamentary membership of any sitting member of the MDC," Mutambara said.
Party spokesman Dube however said that the "status quo" of Welshman Ncube's leadership remains until the Supreme Court decides otherwise. He said Mutambara's arguments are baseless.
Dube meanwhile also dismissed the Deputy Prime Minister's insistence that he still has a following, with the majority of the dismissed members openly supporting the MDC-T.
"If he believes (the dismissed legislators) are members of his pseudo, fictitious party then he is the biggest political fool ever to walk the planet," Dube said.