Ending weeks of uncertainty, Zimbabwean Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara said Monday that he would not step down as deputy prime minister and principal in Harare's unity government despite having lost the leadership of his formation of the Movement for Democratic Change to former Industry Minister Welshman Ncube.
VOA Studio 7 reporter Thomas Chiripasi reported from the capital that Mutambara said he had a "national responsibility" to continue as deputy prime minister and principal in the unity government alongside President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. He tacitly criticized MDC formation president Ncube, saying he was putting the national interest above "narrow" political party concerns.
But Vice President Edwin Mushoriwa of the Ncube-led MDC wing accused Mutambara of having been influenced in his decision to retain the office of deputy prime minister by Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF, as the president has refused to ask for his resignation.
ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo refused to comment on the issue. Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC formation told Jonga Kandemiiri that the issue of whether Mutambara goes or stays is not of concern to his party whose focus is the mounting political violence in Harare and elsewhere with elections looming.
Among reactions from political observers and others, lawyer Chris Mhike told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that Mutambara had legitimate grounds to refuse to step down.
But political commentator Rejoice Ngwenya disagreed, saying Mutambara should respect the wishes of the political party that put him in a position of power.