Mugabe to replace MDC Ministers and disburse IMF $510 million loan to cronies

HARARE – Zimbabwe could plunge deeper into political turmoil amid reports that Robert Mugabe may appoint acting ministers in place of government ministers from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC.

Mainstream MDC ministers on Tuesday boycotted the Cabinet for the second week running following their party’s decision two weeks ago to disengage from Zanu-PF in protest over the continued violation of the GPA by the latter.

Media, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu is quoted in the State controlled Herald newspaper Wednesday as saying Mugabe was being tempted to appoint acting ministers to salvage the impending agricultural season, whose preparations he said were being hampered by the continued MDC boycott.

“With the agricultural season upon us,” Shamu said, “the issue of portfolio leadership at ministerial level has to be addressed by His Excellency the President as the Head of State and Government one way or the other.

“His Excellency may have to consider appointing ministers in an acting capacity to key ministries for the sake of a successful agricultural season and the general economic turnaround.

“Important Cabinet decisions have to be translated into action expeditiously.”

Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made, a Zanu-PF stalwart, also told the Herald his ministry was beginning to feel the heat from lack of participation in Cabinet decisions by MDC ministers, who are part of the inclusive government’s inter-ministerial committee on agricultural inputs.

The committee comprises Made’s ministry together with the ministries of Finance and that of Industry and Commerce.

The ministries of Finance, Economic Planning, Energy and Water Resources, all being occupied by ministers of the mainstream MDC are also attached to the so-called agriculture-related ministries.

“The nation relies on the Minister of Finance to financially guarantee Government’s commitment and to seek lines of credit for input procurement and distribution through Grain Marketing Board depots,” Made said.

“In his absence, our hands are tied to the detriment of expectant farmers. The rainy season is upon us and the season cannot wait for MDC-T to decide to reverse their decision.

“If a planting deadline is October 15, it will not change because someone has disengaged. It means the whole country has to wait for October 15, 2010.”

The said appointment of acting ministers is contrary to Zanu-PF claims that government business was not going to be stalled by the mainstream MDC’s absence from the government.

Meanwhile, the MDC insists it will not go back on its decision to disengage from Zanu-PF until all its demands were addressed.

Party spokesperson Nelson Chamisa told the media Tuesday his party will push for fresh elections if it fails to persuade SADC, brokers of the unity deal, to intervene effectively on the Zimbabwean political crisis.

A three-hour meeting between President Mugabe and Tsvangirai on Monday failed to break the deadlock between the rivals.

The MDC insists it will not be pressured into a complete pull-out of the unity government claming it has the legitimate mandate of Zimbabweans to govern the country.

On the other hand, Zanu-PF insists it will not budge to any further demands by MDC.

Zanu-PF is adamant it has fulfilled its end of the bargain and t is now the responsibility of its partner in government to force the removal of western imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe and further influence a stop in broadcasts from so-called pirate radio stations run by exiled Zimbabwean journalists.

But Chamisa said it was not the responsibility of the MDC to force the removal of any sanctions but that of Zanu-PF through playing its part in the full implementation of the GPA.

“The authorship and the source of restrictive measures rest squarely on Zanu-PF,” Chamisa said.

“It is a matter between those who imposed those sanctions and Zanu-PF. The duty to remove them lies squarely on Zanu-PF.”

On the issue of the foreign-based radio stations, Chamisa said Zanu-PF should engage Washington and London, which are playing host to some of the stations.

“We do not broadcast anything from this headquarters,” he said.

“They must go to London. We have nothing to do with any broadcasting. We do not broadcast anything from any radio station.

Chamisa denied claims by the Herald that Tsvangirai had begged for Monday’s meeting with Mugabe.

He said it was in fact Mugabe who had requested a meeting with Tsvangirai as the MDC leader was in the middle of his regional tour to drum up support for his party’s decision to boycott cabinet.

Then, Chamisa said, it was not possible for Tsvangirai to immediately abandon his visit to the DRC to attend to Mugabe’s request back home.

Chamisa said Monday’s meeting was in fact a crisis meeting centering on the outstanding issues to the GPA contrary to claims by the Herald it was a routine meeting between the leaders.

He said the two parties were still “poles apart” in terms of their appreciation of the outstanding issues.

He said Monday’s meeting also discussed the conduct of information and publicity permanent secretary George Charamba, who continues to churn out hate speech in the state media.

“Charamba has now become an outstanding issue because of his conduct and his behaviour,’ he said.

“He is masquerading as a politician when he is not a politician. He is usurping the powers of being a spokesperson of a political party when he continues to occupy an office in the inclusive government.

“He has actually become a source of disharmony, a source of acrimony, and a source of tension in this country because he is the one who is behind the churning out of hatred, propaganda and hate speech in The Herald and even falsehood to mislead and misinform the nation.” (The Zimbabwe Times)