Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara’s efforts to cling onto his post in the inclusive government received a body blow yesterday after Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Lawrence Kamocha declared him an illegitimate president of the smaller MDC faction.
The ruling put to rest the long-running legal wrangle over control of the party and Mutambara’s legal status in the inclusive government.
The court ruled Mutambara could no longer be a principal in the inclusive government.
It followed an application by MDC secretary-general Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga seeking to bar Mutambara from “masquerading” as party president or as one of the coalition government’s three principals.
In a ruling read on his behalf by fellow High Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi, Justice Kamocha ordered the robotics professor to stop acting as a principal in the inclusive government and as MDC president in any fora in the country or internationally.
He also ordered that Mutambara pay the costs of the lawsuit.
“In light of the foregoing findings, this court holds the view that applicants (MDC) are entitled to the final order they seek in terms of the amended draft page 1 and 2 supra (above),” ruled Kamocha.
The terms of the final order granted by the judge read: “Pending the finalisation of case number HC612/11 in Harare, the respondent (Mutambara) be and is hereby interdicted from purporting to be the president of the Movement for Democratic Change and from interfering with structures and organs as well as from exercising any functions or powers vested in the president of MDC.
“That respondent be and is hereby interdicted from attending any meeting of whatever description of principals in the inclusive government of Zimbabwe or of any regional or international body in the capacity of principal in the inclusive government of Zimbabwe,” the order reads in part.
“That the respondent be and is hereby interdicted from performing or exercising any functions or power vested in the president of MDC and/or principal in the inclusive government and respondent declared not the president of MDC.”
The final order followed a provisional order, which was granted by Justice Nicholas Ndou on February 16 interdicting Mutambara from purporting to be MDC president.
In January, Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube took over from Mutambara as party leader at a congress held at the City Sports Centre in Harare.
The robotics professor initially endorsed Ncube’s ascendancy in a speech he gave at the congress. But he made a U-turn after he was asked to step down as Deputy Prime Minister and make way for the new party leader.
About 12 disgruntled MDC officials challenged Ncube’s election at the High Court and threw their weight behind Mutambara. The matter is still to be heard by the High Court.
President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai sided with Mutambara in the dispute, saying they could not force him to step down as the matter was sub judice (awaiting judicial determination).
Senior counsel Advocate Adrian de Bourbon, now based in South Africa, represented the MDC while Mutambara was represented by Harare lawyer Alec Muchadehama.