Daggers have been drawn between MDC-M leader Arthur Mutambara and his secretary-general Welshman Ncube in the looming battle for control of the smaller faction of the MDC.
The internecine fight began last week when Ncube spoke of the party’s constitution that allows party members to contest for any position.
The Bulawayo-based politician said he would not turn down a request by the party to become the leader.
But Mutambara shot down Ncube’s aspirations as wild wishes which would remain dreams.
However, Ncube has now returned with an emboldened voice.
Tuesday, he told NewsDay that the people of Matabeleland were tired of playing second fiddle to other tribes in the country’s political game.
Ncube said the time had come for the people of Matabeleland to stand up and be counted by taking leadership positions instead of remaining as eternal deputies.
“We had a meeting two years ago in Ntabazinduna (Matabeleland North) where we were accused of always opting out of leadership positions,” Ncube said.
“The membership said it’s loud and clear that Gibson Sibanda was the president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions but when the MDC was formed Tsvangirai (who was the ZCTU secretary- general) took over the leadership.”
He recalled how he had, after leading a splinter MDC group from Tsvangirai’s main party, instead of becoming leader of the party, or giving the chance to others within the structures, he had invited Mutambara from the Diaspora.
He also recounted how, when election time came, the party threw its weight behind Simba Makoni instead of taking up the challenge.
“After the split of the party, the people said, ‘you gave us Mutambara and we supported him; but when it came to the elections you chose Simba Makoni’,” Ncube said. “The people wanted answers from us.”
He said this time congress would choose a leader of their choice, based on merit and not tribe, race or any other qualification. Mutambara yesterday refused to comment on the matter.
“Ah don’t call me again on the same subject. Are there no development issues, washaya zvekunyora here (have you run out of things to write about?),” he said before terminating the call.
Ncube said the party members from Matabeleland had expressed their unhappiness at their leaders’ failure to take up meaningful leadership positions.
“We then took a position that we were not going to demean ourselves again. Later, the national executive took a position that all members would be available for posts, regardless of whether they were from Matabeleland, Manicaland or any part of the country.
“At that meeting Gibson Sibanda stood up and said there is nowhere in the Bible where it is written that people from Matabeleland should be eternal deputies.”
Ncube said because the party’s leadership had taken that position, he was ready to take over the MDC-M presidency. He confirmed that members of the party had asked him if he was available for the party’s leadership.
“To those who have spoken to me, I’ve said I’m bound by the national executive’s decision and I’m therefore available. I’m however not going to campaign or ask anyone to vote for me,” he said.
Ncube said Mutambara had done very well in Government and he had re-organised the party after the 2008 harmonised elections.
He said if there was a change of leadership in the party, it did not mean that those who lost leadership positions, including Mutambara had done badly.
MDC-M spokesman Edwin Mushoriwa, who has been tipped for the party’s vice presidency, confirmed that the party had emphasised that one’s region would not be considered when considering positions.
“We are a democratic party and our position is that people should be elected on merit and not on tribal or racial considerations. We need to move away from placing people in certain positions based on which part of the country they come from,” he said.
Mushoriwa said there was no jostling for positions in the party adding that “most of the activity has been happening in newspapers.”
Ncube is no longer eligible for re-election to his current position while Fletcher Dulini-Ncube’s tenure as treasurer-general and Gibson Sibanda’s tenure as vice-president have also lapsed. The three have served their two terms but can be elected to other positions.