Defence Forces Chiefs boycott Tsvangirai Inauguration

HARARE – A bruising confrontation between Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and the Defence Forces is brewing after the ALL the Service Chiefs boycotted Tsvangirai's swearing-in ceremony.

The Service Chiefs, if you recall, were in attendance during  Mugabe;s own swearing-in ceremony last year, after that June 27 hoax. THey attended in full dress to show their support and allegiance to the newly sworn-in President, as is traditional. They were expected to be present at State House for Tsvangirai’s swearing-in.

They still insist to Mugabe that they will not be saluting the new Prime Minister, with two of them apparently so bitterly opposed to Mugabe’s new marriage to Tsvangirai’s MDC that they say they are prepared to resign.

The two, who I can not name without breaching official Secrecy Laws, apparently handed their resignation letters to Mugabe on Tuesday as Tsvangirai made his announcement of cabinet minister picks.

Mugabe refused to accept them.

The Service Chiefs were still on the State House grounds when Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara arrived on that same Tuesday for discussions around governorship appointments. They left after the Prime Minister and his deputy had gone into the building.

I understand that, although invitations were sent to the Chiefs for the Inauguration, they all communicated back to Mugabe their regrets. Mugabe is said to have lined up

Some of the people Mugabe intended to appoint to cabinet have also refused appointment, apparently, with several requesting instead to be seconded back to the party to"help rebuild it." It is certain these want to be able to help their mentor get a strong grip on the party in preparation for the succession of Mugabe. This is given even stronger currency because the ones who refused are all aligned to Mugabe’s now confirmed heir.

Meantime, there is increasingly talk, which is becoming difficult for me to ignore since several people are "confirming" it, that Robert Mugabe has told Morgan Tsvangirai he can not bring his party functionaries into government for civil service jobs. Mugabe says his government will supply all civil servants from the pool of available and qualified people.

Mugabe has apparently told the MDC that the government is staffed by professional civil servants and these would be assigned to do government jobs.

What made me sceptical in the beginning was the talk that Tsvangirai has apparently been told that, when it comes to security personnel, especially, he will have to let government supply "trained people". The justification, apparently, was given as: "If anything happens to you while you are being protected by non-trained personnel, then we would get the blame as government. To ensure your safety, we will have to supply professionally trained people who government can take responsibility for."

Put another way, Mugabe’s government is saying to Tsvangirai they can not take responsibility for his safety if he chooses to go outside the government Close Protection Unit for his security needs.

Regarding the other ministerial staff, he has been informed that it is the norm for a ministers to be sent the CVs of people in the civil service who are qualified for a job opening and then he/she would vet them and choose the best candidate.

A former cabinet minister told me just a few minutes ago that this position is the correct one, legally, constitutionally and in terms of the rules governing civil service appointments.

But he also says that, if there is agreement within the new government and they are genuinely interested in working together, then they are ways around this.

He pointed to the fact in 1980, as Mugabe took over and inherited Smith’s civil service, Mugabe had to resort to a "Special Presidential Directive on The Advancement of Black People In The Civil Service" to be able to hire those that had been in the bush with him.

Besides this, I also don’t see how Tsvangirai would just roll over and accept such an dictation. If he agreed to it, then he can be sure (as he knows, obviously), that his office and the offices of his ministers will be staffed full of special undercover operatives who will report their every move to the Mugabe government.

Anyway, we will soon know the truth of this, but certainly this would be unacceptable fromn Tsvangirai’s point of view.