Petulant Robert Mugabe's ministers refusing to report to Tsvangirai

HARARE – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says Zanu PF ministers are refusing to report to him as mandated by the Global Political Agreement (GPA), a situation that has collapsed many operations of the coalition government.\r\n

Tsvangirai said this in his weekly Prime Minister’s newsletter, a publication that acts as his official mouth piece. The former trade unionist, who is in an awkward coalition with long-time rival President Robert Mugabe, says Zanu PF ministers such as Webster Shamu were sidestepping him despite his role as the chief overseer of government policy.

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“We have seen a distinct division between the two parties where certain ministries are no longer accountable to the collective. They are only accountable to the president. So you can see that there is growing discord and fissures within the government and these are causing the government to be dysfunctional,” said Tsvangirai.

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Shamu is the Minister of Information and Publicity and has resisted implementation of media reforms agreed to by Tsvangirai and Mugabe.

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“This is against the GPA and the law. The Constitution says specifically that all ministers are supposed to be supervised by the prime minister but that is in theory. In practice people have maintained their separate ways,” said Tsvangirai.

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The GPA spells out that the prime minister shall “oversee the formulation of government policies” and “shall ensure that the ministers develop appropriate implementation plans to give effect to the policies decided by cabinet: in this regard, the ministers will report to the prime minister on all issues relating to the implementation of such policies and plans.”

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The prime minister is the one who will regularly report to the president and parliament, according to the GPA, which forms the foundation of the coalition government. Tsvangirai painted a picture of a hugely divided cabinet where daggers were always drawn out at the expense of service delivery.

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He said although his party was in a coalition with Mugabe’s Zanu PF, the parties had largely remained entrenched in party politics and were answerable more to party organs than government structures.

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“They have remained answerable to their separate leadership. For instance, the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity, in spite of repeated calls to the president to intervene in this ministry, nothing has happened,” said Tsvangirai with a hint of frustration.

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“In spite of repeated calls for President Mugabe to rein in some of the rogue elements in the military who have been pronouncing statements which are unconstitutional, he has not done so.

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“It appears that people are either in defiance or are being encouraged to make those statements in order to sow seeds of discord to the only institution which has helped rescue this country, which is the transitional Government.”

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Apart from the Ministry of Information and Publicity, all the security aligned ministries such as Home Affairs, State Security Defence and Mines have so far refused to report to the premier but instead deal directly with Mugabe. The ministers concerned were not reachable when the Daily News repeatedly tried calling their mobile numbers.

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Tsvangirai said the current status quo had the potential to “plunge into chaos” which would be detrimental to the country. Tsvangirai also emphasised that there were some in Zanu PF who “believe they can claim continued hold onto the State”. Tsvangirai said the treatment of his party by the police and recent attacks on the house of Finance Minister Tendai Biti were worrying.

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“We have a situation here where one half of Government is blatantly abusing and harassing the other half,” said Tsvangirai adding that the bombing of Biti’s residence “is a matter we are taking seriously and we will not let it pass just like that.”

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University of Zimbabwe Political analyst, John Makumbe said the premier’s complaints were a sign of a government in paralysis.

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“He is correct to complain but that is the nature of the coalition government. It is effectively a parallel government. The MDC T ministers are reporting to Tsvangirai while Zanu PF Ministers are reporting to Mugabe and I doubt that the MDC N ministers are reporting to anyone,” said Makumbe.

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“Effectively we have two governments and it’s a government in paralysis.” Daily News