Need to present united front against Mugabe
HARARE – The conflict between Welshman Ncube and Arthur Mutambara over the control of the smaller MDC has degenerated into a circus.
Recently, Ncube fired five MPs and 49 councillors claiming they had crossed the floor to mainstream MDC. He has written to Parliament to expel the MPs from the house.
But Mutambara has written a counter letter, claiming the MPs belong to him. The Supreme Court is yet to decide the legitimate MDC faction leader.
In 2009, the Ncube-led MDC expelled three other MPs for allegedly working with the mainstream MDC.
Ncube now has only four MPs under him.
Considering Ncube’s camp is itself a faction of the main MDC, the apparent defection of the MPs to Mutambara has now created a faction within a faction.
Ironically, both Ncube and Mutambara do not hold any electoral mandate from national elections. Both lost in the last parliamentary elections.
Mutambara found legitimacy from the number of MPs the faction had from the last election.
So it was Mutambara, then undisputed leader of the faction, who received legitimacy on the basis of the number of MPs under the GPA.
That said, the conflict between Ncube and Mutambara should at this point in time be determined by law.
Ideally, in determining whether Ncube’s action in dismissing the MPs is proper or not, Parliament ought to determine the effect of an appeal.
Mutambara has appealed to the Supreme Court against a previous ruling in favour of Ncube at the High Court.
Ncube argues that the High Court decision should stand pending the decision of the Supreme Court while Mutambara contends the appeal effectively nullifies the ruling in the interim.
Surely, there ought to be legal norms and case law that should determine who has authority at the moment.
There appears to be a general principle of law in most jurisdictions that a decision is suspended until the time allowed for an appeal has expired.
In other words, decision will not be effective during the time in which a person adversely affected may file a notice of appeal.
In this case, the person adversely affected by the original decision is Mutambara. Had Mutambara failed to act within the stipulated appeal period, the decision of the High Court decision would automatically take effect.
This principle which gives suspensive effect to the ruling of the lower court would, however, have a negative impact if the appeal is simply frivolous and vexatious.
It remains to be seen whether the superior court will rule in favour of Mutambara after he apparently relinquished leadership to Ncube.
Whether the same principle on appeals applies here or not, this conflict should be resolved through recourse to law while the Supreme Court is pending.
Unfortunately, the faction has fallen victim of political machinations of Zanu PF, resulting in complications that now threaten to destroy it.
On the one hand, President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF choose to recognise Mutambara as the principal under the coalition government.
As pointed out, Mutambara gained legitimacy on the basis of the number of MPs from the last elections. Therefore, he was recognised as the political leader of this camp.
But Zanu PF no longer recognises Mutambara as a political leader but still retains him as a Principal because he is simply the signatory to the GPA.
But the GPA should draw its legitimacy from its representative political leadership.
Zanu PF instead recognises Ncube as the bona fide political leader of the faction but not as a Principal.
As a show of that recognition, Ncube was allocated funds under the Political Parties Finance Act.
The bottom line is that Zanu PF has masterfully ripped this faction apart it is difficult to see it survive as a strong and genuine political force.
Defections to either the mainstream MDC formation or Mutambara suggest that the faction may be struggling.
The proposition for reunification with the main MDC has gained currency in some quarters.
It is something that Ncube’s faction (and Mutambara’s) should seriously consider.
Ncube’s camp has maintained a hard line on suggestions about reunification, a position I will analyse soon.
But it might be worth reconsidering this position and present a united front against Mugabe. – Conrad Nyamutata