President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai held their usual meeting Monday with Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara though the beleagued politician was last weekend dumped by the Southern African Development Community in Maputo, Mozambique.
There were high hopes that the two would hold the meeting with Professor Welshman Ncube, who became the leader of the other Movement for Democratic Change formation following the party’s congress last year.
Mr. Mugabe handed over to Mr. Tsvangirai and Mutambara a document containing proposed Zanu PF amendments to Zimbabwe’s draft constitution compiled by the parliamentary select committee - much to the discomfort of the Ncube-led MDC.
Deputy information secretary for Ncube’s MDC, Kurauone Chihwayi, said his leader was not invited for the Monday meeting by Mr. Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai.
“We view this as an attempt by President Mugabe and the prime minister as a way of delegitimizing our party,” said Chihwayi.
Chihwayi said his party would now employ various legal and political tactics until Ncube is recognized as a ruling party principal.
Mutambara, who has lost two court cases seeking to nullify the election of Ncube as leader of the MDC formation, accuses South African President Jacob Zuma of sidelining him in talks mediated by SADC.
Zanu PF politburo member Jonathan Moyo is quoted in the state controlled Sunday Mail
newspaper also accusing Mr. Zuma of abusing his role as SADC facilitator to help Ncube, his in-law.
Presidesnt Zuma’s daughter is married to Ncube’s son.
Responding to the sidelining of Mutambara by the regional body, Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo told VOA Studio 7's Violet Gonda his party does not interfere in the political affairs of other organizations.
He said: “Individual Zanu PF members are allowed to make their analysis and observations and to that extent Professor Moyo has a right to comment.”
Nhlanhla Dube, spokesman for the Ncube MDC formation said Zanu PF and Mr. Tsvangirai’s party are protecting Mutambara which proves their earlier assertion that he is their political stooge.
Douglas Mwonzora, spokesman for the Tsvangirai-led MDC said the leadership crisis in the Ncube MDC formation does not benefit Zimbabwe.
“It is a very, very chaotic scenario which confuses the people of Zimbabwe,” Mwonzora said.
SADC resolved that they will now engage on Zimbabwean issues with the three unity government principals - President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Professor Ncube.
Mutambara dismissed the move as baseless saying he filed an appeal in the Supreme Court to block attempts by Ncube to force him to hand over the leadership of the party to him.
The two MDC formations have endorsed the COPAC draft in its current form while Zanu PF is insisting on making several changes before subjecting the document to a second all-stakeholders’ conference followed by a referendum.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti, who is also secretary general of the Tsvangirai MDC, on Monday told pastors of different denominations that the document presented by Mr. Mugabe to his fellow governing partners contains proposed amendments to the draft constitution made by the former ruling party.
It is still unclear whether the two MDC parties will agree to discuss Zanu PF's demands following the SADC summit in Mozambique last weekend.
SADC leaders urged the ruling parties to finalize the constitution-making process and create an election roadmap with clear timelines for free and fair polls.