Zimbabwe’s Deputy PM Refuses to Resign, Defies Party

Zimbabwean Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara refused to resign, defying a directive from his party to step down and accept a ministerial position after he lost the party’s leadership.

Mutambara was replaced by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube as head of the faction of the Movement for Democratic Change at its congress in January, after which the party said he would move to the Minister of International Co-operation and Regional Integration.

“I have no intention whatsoever to leave the position of deputy prime minister,” Mutambara told reporters today in Harare, the capital. “I will not abdicate from my national responsibilities in order to satisfy narrow party-political aspirations.”

Mutambara said he wouldn’t recognize Ncube as party leader until the High Court ruled on an application by some party officials challenging the validity of the January congress which led to the change of leadership. The MDC accused Mutambara of going back on his word, saying he had voluntarily opted out of the party elections in January and handed control to Ncube.

“The party’s position still stands and we will defend it,” vice president Edwin Mushoriwa said in a phone interview in Harare. “Ncube is our candidate for the deputy prime minister’s position.”

Zimbabwe’s power-sharing government was sworn in February 2009 after disputed elections the year before, under a deal that allowed Robert Mugabe to remain as president, and Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai to become prime minister.