Tsvangirai in Robert Mugabe's pockets, losing the plot and marbles too

HARARE – PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is taking political brickbats from his party’s senior leadership after apparently apologising to President Robert Mugabe over a boycott of last week’s cabinet meeting by MDC ministers

Furious officials have sought a clarification from Tsvangirai amid rising tensions in the party following another row last week pitting him against Finance Minister Tendai Biti.

MDC ministers pulled out of the Cabinet meeting after it was brought forward by a day because Mugabe was leaving for an African Union summit in Libya.

Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe said the decision to hold the cabinet meeting on Monday and not the traditional Tuesday was a Zanu PF plot to deny Tsvangirai an opportunity to chair cabinet.

Tsvangirai publicly supported the boycott by his ministers, saying he “understands their frustrations and concerns”.

But President Mugabe, in an interview with the state-run Herald newspaper on Monday, claimed Tsvangirai had apologised to him.

He told the Herald: “We talked a bit about it with the Prime Minister and he apologised for it, and thought they should have come and if they had any grievances, aired their grievances in the meeting.

“It was a surprise to me to tell you the truth. I don’t know whether this is going to be the order of doing things. It’s insolence on one hand, but it’s also abysmal ignorance on the other.”

The report sparked feverish activity among senior MDC officials who say the Prime Minister’s message is increasingly at odds with the party line.

One minister said Tsvangirai was “causing agony” in the party.

“It’s a big problem. The team in cabinet is not speaking the same language as the Prime Minister and if Mugabe’s statement is anything to go by, then expect fireworks in the party,” said the minister who spoke to New Zimbabwe.com on condition of anonymity. 

Late Monday, the Prime Minister’s spokesman James Maridadi said Tsvangirai had no recollection of the said apology.

Maridadi said: “What informs me is what the Prime Minister said at the press conference (last week) that members of cabinet have a right to disengage if they so wish.”

But a steady group of disgruntled MDC supporters are gathering around the abrasive Biti who last Friday accused Tsvangirai of lying over a US$950 million loan from China.

Tsvangirai told reporters Biti had secured the massive credit line, a statement Biti dismissed as “without foundation”.

Reports say while the credit line has been secured, Biti played no part in it and had not been fore-warned that Tsvangirai would give him credit for it.

While there is no immediate move to challenge Tsvangirai’s leadership, an MDC insider said: “If someone challenges leadership, then they invite it upon themselves.” newzimbabwe.com