THE MDC feud escalated yesterday with Professor Arthur Mutambara saying Prof Welshman Ncube had no authority to fire MDC legislators and councillors. This followed the announcement by the Prof Ncube-led MDC faction on Monday that it had fired eight legislators and 49 councillors for indiscipline and crossing the floor to the MDC-T.
Professors Mutambara and Ncube are embroiled in a wrangle for leadership of the MDC and the matter is before the Supreme Court, which is still to make a determination.
Prof Mutambara wrote letters to Speaker of the House of Assembly Mr Lovemore Moyo and Senate President Cde Edna Madzongwe advising them to disregard attempts by the Prof Ncube-led MDC to have the legislators fired from Parliament for allegedly crossing the floor.
"These legislators were elected under my leadership as the president of the MDC. Both the issue whether Welshman Ncube was duly elected president of the MDC in January 2001 and the matter of the legitimacy of the corresponding MDC congress are before the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe," wrote Prof Mutambara, who is Deputy Prime Minister in the inclusive Government.
"Consequently, all these issues are sub judice. Hence the entire leadership led by Welshman Ncube has no locus standi to expel members of the MDC. Hence they cannot purport to terminate the Parliamentary membership of any sitting member of the MDC."
Prof Mutambara said the Prof Ncube faction could only seek expulsion of the legislators if the Supreme Court ruled in their favour.
"Even in this scenario, how do you fire more than 70 percent of your elected representatives, and remain legitimate as a party leader and as a Government minister? This has never happened in the history of constitutional democracies," Prof Mutambara said.
However, deputy spokesperson of the faction led by Prof Ncube, Mr Kurauone Chihwayi, said his group was resolute in dismissing the legislators and councillors.
"They are provoking us to move fast in the actions that we intend to take. We have adequate apparatus to deal with those rogue elements. We will deal with them once and for all. If these people think that we are dreaming, then we will meet soon. That is when they will see that actually they are the ones who are day-dreaming," said Mr Chihwayi.
The faction led by Prof Ncube is now left with four House of Assembly members and four Senators, while the faction led by Prof Mutambara has three House of Assembly members and two Senators.
Before their split, Prof Mutambara and Prof Ncube sacked three House of Assembly members -- Mr Abedinico Bhebhe (Nkayi South), Mr Njabuliso Mguni (Bulilima East) and Mr Norman Mpofu (Lupane East) -- after they defected to the MDC-T.
However, sources close to the development say the legislators defected to MDC-T but were using Prof Mutambara as a smokescreen so that they could not be expelled from Parliament for crossing the floor.
"Those MPs are pursuing MDC-T activities on the ground but obviously Mutambara is excited that there are people who claim to belong to him when in actual fact they are now in MDC-T.
"They have nothing to do with Mutambara but are just using him as a façade so that they are not expelled for crossing the floor. They know that if they acknowledge that they are now in MDC-T, they would be expelled for crossing the floor," said a source.
Another source said: "The biggest winner in this case is Tsvangirai than Mutambara because those people just want protection from Mutambara. I can't understand why Mutambara can't see that he is being used."
MDC-T organising secretary Mr Nelson Chamisa could neither confirm nor deny that the legislators defected to their party.
"In our party, the more the merrier. To add is to strengthen yet to subtract is to weaken," he said.
"If one knocks on our doors, we open for them. We don't recruit in public. All we know is that there is just one MDC led by president (of MDC-T) Tsvangirai, but individuals are allowed to form parties and claim to lead them."