Zimbabwe: Mugabe, PM Accommodate Ncube?

President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister (PM) Morgan Tsvangirai have finally agreed to accommodate Welshman Ncube in their weekly tripartite meetings in a move seen as a partial fulfillment of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) resolution reached in Maputo in August.

This comes almost four months after SADC leaders had directed that Ncube, who leads a breakaway formation of the Movement for Demo-cratic Change (MDC), be recognised as a principal to the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which formed the basis of the coalition government in 2009.

At some point, Ncube had threatened to invoke the SADC Maputo resolution in order to compel President Mugabe and PM Tsvangirai to recognise him as a principal and invite him to their Monday meetings where government business is discussed.

Sources within both formations of the MDC indicate that both President Mugabe and PM Tsvangirai agreed to meet Ncube only as a political leader on Tuesday after the weekly Cabinet meetings, a position sources claim Ncube was not happy with.

They would have met Arthur Mutambara on Monday as a so-called government principal in the usual weekly meetings, which had been the bone of contention.

Mutambara was ousted from the Ncube-led MDC early last year at the party's elective bi-annual congress. Together with some legislators, they challenged the party elections at the courts and lost, resulting in Ncube demanding recognition as a principal in the inclusive government.

Mutambara has since appealed to the Supreme Court and has been using that court challenge as the basis for clinging on to his position.

In a telephone interview with The Financial Gazette yesterday, Ncube expressed dissatisfaction with the decision to meet him only as a "political leader", saying the continued recognition of Mutambara was in contravention of the SADC resolution.

"The supposed agreement is that the so-called government principals meet on Monday then the political party principals meet on Tuesday after the Cabinet meeting, but this was not followed this week. No one called the meeting on Tuesday," said Ncube.

Asked whether the new arrangement would resolve the impasse between him and the other principals over his recognition, Ncube said the truce was a farce and that there were only three political leaders with ministers in government.

"The fact is that there are only three leaders of political parties in government, three presidents of political parties with ministers in government, so you can't have Mutambara since he has no ministers and has no political party," said Ncube.

Deputy spokesperson in Ncube's MDC, Kurauone Chihwai, said their position had not changed.

"As things stand, there is no movement. Indications are that Tsvangirai is in agreement with (President) Mugabe to sideline Ncube. They are still violating the SADC directive," said Chihwai.

President Mugabe's spokesperson, George Charamba was said to be in a meeting yesterday and William Bango, PM Tsvangirai's spokesperson, did not answer calls to his mobile number.

Last month, Ncube dismissed "dissident" legislators and councillors from his party.

Among those fired were House of Assembly representatives Nomalanga Khumalo who was the house's deputy speaker and Member of Parliament for Umzingwane, Thandeko Zindi Mkandla of Gwanda North and Maxwell Dube of Tsholotsho South. In the Senate, Kembo Dube of Umzingwane South, and Dalumuzi Khumalo of Lupane were also given their marching orders.

In 2009, Ncube expelled Abednico Bhebhe (Nkayi South), Njabuliso Mguni (Lupane East) and Norman Mpofu (Bulilima East) for allegedly working with Tsvangirai's MDC-T.

He is now left with three House of Assembly members - Moses Mzila Ndlovu, Edward Mkhosi and Patrick Dube as well as David Coltart in the Senate to make it only four elected representatives. Some of the dismissed legislators have since indicated that they belong to Mutambara's breakaway faction in order to cling to their parliamentary seats.

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