Reflecting strained relations between Zimbabwe's National Constitutional Assembly, a prominent civil society group, and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, an NCA official said the chairman of its own advocacy committee, Felix Mafa, was removed as a conflict was perceived with a similar MDC post he holds.
Mafa serves as spokesman for the MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai in Bulawayo, the country's second largest city.
NCA officials including the group's chairman, Lovemore Madhuku, have been critical of both factions of the MDC for voting with the ruling ZANU-PF party in September to pass a constitutional amendment changing the electoral framework in major ways.
NCA officials and members have accused the MDC of sacrificing democratic principles to expediency in reaching compromises with the ruling party in the interest of moving toward a true two-party political system and obtaining free and fair elections.
Madhuku said recently that the NCA would have to reconsider whether it was possible for individuals to reconcile allegiance simultaneously to the NCA and to the MCA. But it was unclear with the Mafa case signaled a clear shift on this question, as Mafa's role as a spokesman on both sides of the issue raised the risk conflicts could arise.
Mafa asserted in an interview that he still holds the chairmanship of the NCA advocacy committee as NCA officials have not yet officially informed him of the decision. He said he appreciates the NCA's position in the matter but would not step down saying that the fundamental issue of conflicts can only be resolved by a full NCA congress.
NCA spokesman Maddock Chivasa told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that by removing Mafa from the advocacy committee chairmanship, the organization was simply trying to help him to fulfill his MDC duties.
More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...