Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, flanked by Deputy PM Arthur Mutambara at a press conference this afternoon where he announced that he was nullyfying President Mugabe's appointment of Permanent Secretaries.
Morgan Tsvangirai was summoned to State House today by Robert Mugabe about an hour after the Prime Minister issued his statement nullyfying all appointments of Permanent Secretaries announced by Mugabe yesterday.
Tsvangirai, during his press conference at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, said the PermSecs who were in the jobs on September 15 should stay in their posts and also directly challenged Mugabe by declaring the appointments "null and void".
The meeting at the State House is still going on, I am told.
Tsvangirai's statement was particularly noteworthy for the pains it took to avoid Mugabe's name and even the Office of The President. Tsvangirai merely said "no civil servant" has the power to unilaterally appoint Perm Secs. He also stated that the move was in contravention of the Global Political Agreement signed last year.
It is not clear whether Tsvangirai sought clarification from Mugabe before going public, but the fact that he was summoned soon after the Press Conference would suggest that he had not.
It is a grave and delicate time for this government, because Mugabe is likely to refuse to budge. He still lives in the world where his powers are intact and the Presidential Prerogative still in play.
Of course, this is not what we were told by the MDCs as they went into the this government. They said the Agreement had managed to clip Mugabe's wings, hobbling the president for the rest of the life of the coalition government. This move from Mugabe, agreed, certainly is not a move that is within the spirit of the September 15 agreement.
But what is Tsvangirai going to do about it. (Which reminds of that time in 2007 when Tsvangirai was badly beaten by the police. Mugabe, addressing an Independence Day gathering later, said, "Tsvangirai ran off to the British and the Americans and told them, "oh look, I have been beaten". And what are going to do to us? What are they going to do about it?" asked Mugabe back then.)
The question is back and stares Tsvangirai in the face. What are you going to do about it?
If Tsvangirai sticks to his guns, the only option would be for him to pull out of the GNU. But I hasten to say he is very unlikely to do this. The language of his statement today suggests that he will take this on the chin and continue in government.
Betraying this mentality, he announced that he had tasked the two Ministers of Home Affairs to look into the isue of the prisoners and detainees, Jestina Mukoko, Roy Bennett and others.
Another sign of just how powerless Tsvangirai is in this government comes through in his statement on the "former Department of Communications". This was a department in the Ministry of Information and Publicity under the old Mugabe cabinet.
But that Ministry has now been split, with Mugabe retaining the Ministry of Information and Publicity and the MDC picking up the Ministry of Information Technology and Communications.
Apparently, in reference to the meeting held in Harare last week between ZANU PF minister of information, Webster Shamu, and the telephone companies, Tsvangirai said the Telecommunications sector falls under the MDC ministry and not Mugabe's Webster Shamu.
About right, I should think. Because if the Teleohone companies were to remain with Information and Publicity, what would Nelson Chamisa's ministry be in charge of? Right now, Mugabe Information ministry has power over the state broadcasters (and also any other broadcasters that may come into being later, a highly unlikely event seeing as it is still Mugabe's party that is charge of issuing licences), the State newspapers (Herald, Chronicle, Manica Post and so on) as well as all government communications.
This would leave Nelson Chamisa in charge of what exactly? Internet Service providers and computer vendors? You can see how Tsvangirai would not accept this, because it would mean Chamisa's ministry is nothing but a shell, a public expense with no job to do at all.
The heads of the telephone companies recieved calls from the President's Office this week advising them that they will still report to the old ministry. This was after they called for clarification following communication from the MDC that they should take instructions from the new minister, Nelson Chamisa.
So, nice bit of confusion there.
I suppose all these could be called teething problems, testing strengths, seeing how far one can push back the boundaries, but we know from bitter experience in Zimbabwe that this could explode into a full-blown crisis at any time.
Unless Morgan Tsvangirai's outward softening towards Mugabe is real and he accepts to continue being frustrated in the belief that it is Generals doing it without Mugabe's knowledge, then he certainly has no option but to walk away from this insult.
It does not look or sound like the Prime Minister will walk away from his new-found position of some power and comfort.
To answer the question then, despite the gloomy reports I am hearing tonight, I do not think this is the end of the Unity Government.
There are also other issues cropping up tonight, to test this government. In a demonstration of who is in the driving seat in government, nine MDC supporters were arrested in Mbare this week after the tried to move back in their homes, which were forcibly taken over by ZANU PF supporters during last year's farcical run-off presidential election.
The group of MDC supporters were given short shrift and told to bugger off by the new owners. They took matters into their own hands, as any person trying to reclaim stolen property would, and running batles ensued.
Both ZANU PF and MDC supporters involved in the running battles were arrested, but the ZANU PF supporters (Mugabe's party) were immediately given bail. The MDC supporters have been sent to remand prison until 9 March!
Ponder this: The MDC is in charge of the City Council in Harare. They control the whole thing and have been hiring their supporters for city jobs. They are, indeed, in charge of the council houses taken away from their legal owners/tenants, the MDC's own supporters.
Yet they have not been able to do anything at all to help their supporters. These Mbare supporters (Mbare is a very poor and overcrowded township on the edge of the city centre), are the forgotten footnotes for whom justice has been denied (delayed?) in a world whose eyes are fixed on the Big-name detainees and prisoners.
There are many, who say that they have been forgotten by the MDC. I am sure the Prime Minister is aware of this.
Previous Articles (Please Click On One To Read The Full Post):
- GENERAL CHIWENGWA vs ROBERT MUGABE
- HOW ROBERT MUGABE AMMASSED A FORTUNE
- PRIME MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENTS OFFICE
- ZIMBABWE TO GET TRUTH COMMISSION
- MUGABE CLAIMS FRESH VIOLENCE AGAINST HIS SUPPORTERS
- MDC-PF - It's Animal Farm All Over Again
- Mugabe Guaranteed Immunity
- Tendai Biti Working For Simba Makoni?
- Zimbabwe: The Chess Game Is Now In The Open
- Mugabe and Tsvangirai In First Cabinet Meeting
- Roy Bennett Stays In Jail
- Roy Bennett - Who Is In Charge Of Home Affairs?
- Leave Mugabe Alone, says Tsvangirai
- Roy Bennet Arrested, Ministers Sworn In Anyway
- Defence Force Chiefs Boycott Tsvangirai Inauguration
- Anti-Simba Makoni Alliance Crumbles
- Obamas Secret Message To Mugabe
- The Facts Behind The "Firing" Of Simba Makoni
- Zimbabwe Monetary Policy Highlights
- Gono Refuses To Pay US$22 000 Debt
- Mugabe Explains Why He Won't Go
- MDC Dreaming, Say Zimbabwe Foreign Affairs Officials
- MDC Formally Agrees To Join Mugabe In Government
- Right Again! Budget Announces Full Official Dollarisation
- Mugabe: "I promise you I will never lose an election again."
- Mugabe Settles on Successor
- Why I Blog About Africa And Zimbabwe
- As Zimbabwe Talks Collapse, Dollarisation Now Official
- Grace Mugabe Punched Me Repeatedly - British Journalist
- How SADC and Mugabe Have Boxed-In Morgan Tsvangirai
- 2 year old Freed From Zimbabwe Maximum Security Prison
- Zimbabwe Army Commander Demands Top Government Job