Zimbabweans have this week been treated to some drama in what is fast becoming an intriguing case of Zimbabwe’s two political “Nutty Professors”.
Professor Welshman Ncube, a former University of Zimbabwe lecturer, and his former student, Professor Arthur Mutambara, are fighting, like babies over a teddy bear, for control of the splinter MDC party which they have all but shredded.
Not that the destruction of their little party is of much consequence to Zimbabwe’s bigger political picture, but it is the hullaballoo surrounding their skirmishes that leaves us wondering at the maturity of the two learned men.
Both professors have an obligation to respect their membership at least and not make a public nuisance of themselves.
We believe when university teachers get involved in national politics, they are expected to play the role of experts and provide informed comment.
We see a third hand is clearly playing a big role in this debacle, and the motive could be so sinister it could drag the nation into political turmoil.
The MDC standoff could easily be construed by architects of the circus to mean a constitutional crisis which could lead to early polls.
The election would most likely return Zimbabwe to the unforgettable 2008 political nightmare.
Mutambara and Ncube are making an embarrassing spectacle of themselves at the expense of their supporters who have sacrificed life and limb to give them the crucial 10 seats that now make the MDC the balancing act in the GNU.
After working together for five years, the kitchen suddenly became too hot for two chefs and for a moment, one of them, the robotics professor, sensing humiliating defeat at congress, bowed out.
He declared publicly last month he had done his time and would take a back seat as an ordinary party cadre. What an exemplary and noble move, political analysts and ordinary Zimbabweans concurred, before something, or is it someone?, pricked his other mind, prevailing upon him he was not down and out, and that in fact, he could, as sure as day follows night, keep his Number Three government post.
Before ordinary Zimbabweans had digested the implications of Mutambara’s refusal to leave the Deputy Premier’s Office, the former student activist called a press conference on Wednesday to make clear his position.
“I don’t recognise Professor Ncube as leader of the party that I belong to,” Mutambara declared.
Ncube and his camp, seething at this turnabout, immediately drew knives to finish off the youthful professor’s political life and announced they would do so on Thursday (Thursday).
Sensing danger, Mutambara decided he would strike first. “I am the legitimate leader of the MDC. I have taken a decision to immediately expel Ncube from the party,” he said.
So it was not surprising on Thursday when Ncube came out guns blazing, firing the man who had fired him 24 hours earlier.
Those that have followed this MDC circus contend Mutambara has either lost his marbles or has become part of some other party’s plans.
Ncube’s hands too cannot be squeaky clean. Granted, he outmanoeuvred Mutambara in the political matrix of the MDC and beat him all systems out, but he failed to keep his mouth shut about things he was not able to achieve.
He categorically denied he had ambitions to become Deputy Prime Minister, declaring his party did not have the word “recalling” in its vocabulary.
In no time, however, the same Ncube was telling journalists Mutambara had been recalled and redeployed to some obscure ministry while he, Ncube, as the new MDC leader, now awaited swearing-in by President Robert Mugabe as DPM.
Then the firing and counter-firing began, with President Mugabe weighing in on Mutambara’s side.
If this is the intellectual quality of the leaders from our top academic centres-turned-politicians, what is the future for the country?
The two professors should stop playing the fool and command the respect their status invites.