Matabeleland unhappy with Tsvangirai's cabinet

MDC Leader Morgan TsvangiraiBhebhe who in September led the 10 MDC-M MPs that defied a party caucus resolution to support Paul Themba Nyathi’s bid to become Speaker of Parliament was nominated by Tsvangirai to be the new Minister for Water Resources Development and Management. Other appointments from the region were Eddy Cross as Minister

of State Enterprises and Parastatals and Samuel Siphepha Nkomo as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

"What he has done did not go down well with people from Matabeleland. They sacrificed a lot for him to be where he is today and this is what they get. We will talk about this and I am positive something will be done so that we do not destroy the party," said Thabitha Khumalo, who is deputy spokesperson for the MDC-T and member of the house of assembly from Bulawayo.

Tsvangirai is said to have met President Mugabe and Professor Arthur Mutambara in Harare on Tuesday night, and it is said that in that meeting, Mutambara also had no kind words concerning the shock appointment of Bhebhe, who is now in line for a recall.

Sources said Tsvangirai had tried to ask for Mutambara’s permission to include Bhebhe in his team but was turned down.

"As things stand, Tsvangirai was not supposed to appoint Bhebhe because he belongs to another party. What is clear though is that Bhebhe does not belong to us and he is going to be recalled and he will lose his parliamentary seat in Nkayi and also his ministerial position," fumed one of the Mutambara’s stalwarts, Esaph Mdlongwa, who is a former legislator for Luveve in Bulawayo.

They said the legislator who was also spearheading Tsvangirai’s campaign in the run-up to the aborted June 27 run-off election faces expulsion from the party.

According to the September 15 power sharing agreement between the MDC formations and Zanu PF, there would be no need for a by-election, as a party nominee would fill his position.

"This is cynicism," Nyathi said. " This is a statement to say for people from this pained and marginilised region to be appointed into cabinet they have to sell their souls. This is the same attitude that we fought in Zanu PF and it’s unfortunate for Tsvangirai to repeat the same mistakes."

He said Bhebhe’s decision to accept the appointment also showed that he had no "values and principles. ‘It boggles the mind why Tsvangirai decided to antagonise his colleagues because we cannot say Bhebhe had special competencies," Nyathi said.

He confirmed that disciplinary action would be taken against Bhebhe but refused to elaborate.

Tsvangirai avoided answering questions on whether the appointment meant that Bhebhe had defected to the MDC-T by saying: "He has been appointed into the inclusive government and I don’t know about floor crossing."

MDC-M is yet to announce its own list but sources said Bhebhe had not been considered for appointment because of his publicised problems with the party’s leadership.

"The decision by Tsvangirai to leave out MPs from Matabeleland and rewarding his cronies is a grave mistake because it shows he has no interests of the region at heart during his campaigns he has promised the people of Matabeleland that he will deal with issues of underdevelopment and the Gukurahundi issue but how can he deal with such issues when he does not recognise leaders from the region," said Mthabisi Ncube a Magwegwe resident.

Michael Moyo, a Luveve resident said the actions from Tsvangirai should act as a wake up call to the people of Matabeleland and should teach them that they need a party of their own to advance their interests.

"If Matabeleland had its own party they would use their leverage to team up with any party because currently no party enjoys a majority nationally and hence the Matabeleland vote is important so a united Matabeleland party will get on an equal partnership with any party and they will have equal representation in government,"Moyo said.

"This is a great betrayal, Tsvangirai has been pretending that he loves the people of Matabeleland and all this shows what kind of a person he is, Matabeleland has been behind Tsvangirai for a long time and this is how he rewards our allegiance,"complained Sindiso Nkomo from Makokoba.

Nkomo said he will have to change his voting patterns in future elections.

"This is very disappointing, extremely disappointing in future if there are no choices I will be forced to vote for Zanu PF,"Nkomo said.