South African President Jacob Zuma, mediating in Zimbabwe’s perennial political crisis, has been drawn into a fight for control of the smaller wing of the Movement for Democratic Change and the position of deputy prime minister currently held by former party president Arthur Mutambara, displaced by Welshman Ncube.
Both factions of the Ncube-Mutambara MDC formation, which emerged in 2005 when the opposition party split over whether to participate in an election for a new Senate as well as personal differences between Ncube and now-Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, sent mr. Zuma letters this week asking him to intervene to resolve the dispute.
Mutambara asked Mr. Zuma to prevent his ouster from his unity government post by the Ncube-led wing. The Ncube faction wants Mr. Zuma to call a meeting among the parties in the two-year-old power-sharing government in order to amend the 2008 Global Political Agreement underpinning the national unity government.
President Robert Mugabe has refused to ask for Mutambara’s resignation so that Ncube can be sworn in by virtue of his presidency of the MDC formation. Mutambara signed the GPA in 2008 as president of the MDC formation and subsequently became deputy prime minister, but argues the issues of party leadership and his post are separate.
Zuma facilitation team member Lindiwe Zulu said she and her colleagues will visit Harare next week to pick up mediation of a range of issues - including the disputed post.
Ncube MDC Secretary General Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that her party wants the despute settled so it can move on and focus on more important nation-building issues.
The South African-led discussions are also likely to touch on allegations by the MDC formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that its officials and members are being persecuted by police and other branches of Zimbabwean state security.
One of the latest to be caught up in the toils of justice is Nyanga North legislator Douglas Mwonzora of the Tsvangirai MDC, arraigned before a Nyanga magstrate on charges of public violence Friday after four days in police custody.
Mwonzora, who is a co-chairman of the Parliamentary select committee in charge of revising the constitution, and 24 other party activists arrested last Sunday, have been accused of committing violence at a rally in Nyanga on February 13.
Sources said Mwonzora was remanded in custody for a bail application hearing Monday in Mutare, capital of Manicaland province, where he was moved late Friday.
The MDC said army personnel took over Nyanga Police Station, where Mwonzora was initially held, while youth militants of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party blocked the road to the station to prevent anyone bringing Mwonzora food.
MDC sources said Mwonzora was held in solitary confinement and that his lawyers were denied access to their client.
Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Pishayi Mucharauya told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that Mwonzora's arrest at Parliament this week was politically motivated.