The latest news from Zimbabwe is about the swearing in of Morgan Tsvangirai.
Juts before 12 midday Zimbabwe time (about an hour ago as I write this), at the State House in Harare, Morgan Tsvangirai was called forward by Robert Mugabe to take his oath of office as the First Minister of State, otherwise known as the Prime Minister.
In a ceremony that peeled away all the posturing and showed where true power lies in the new inclusive government, Morgan Tsvangirai then raised his hand, facing Mugabe and took his oath of office.
He was followed by Arthur Mutambara and then Thokozani Khupe.
I was watching the moment closely because it was the first time we got to see first hand where the real power lay in this new creature and there is no doubt that it lies with Mugabe as Head of State.
Instead of being sworn in by the Chief Justice of Zimbabwe as Mugabe was, Tsvangirai was sworn in by Mugabe. The significance of this lies in the fact that, despite Tsvangirai's previous protestations that he was on par with Mugabe in a government of equals, he will actually be reporting to the "President".
Point number two is the actual oath itself. In this oath, Tsvangirai swore to serve faithfully as Prime Minister, as expected, but then he was also sworn into cabinet and had to say that he will offer, to the best of ability, advice to the president in that cabinet. There was no mention of the Council of Ministers, which Tsvangirai Chairs, while Mugabe chairs cabinet.
The significance of this is that it is clear that the Council of Ministers has virtually no standing constitutionally. It is only an operational detail, an organisational convenience. It was not mentioned at all during the swearing in. But the cabinet, which Mugabe will chair and which Tsvangirai had to swear to respect and to serve faithfully, was mentioned by all three people sworn in today.
This is important because I fully expect that arguments that will crop up in future will be related to the powers of the Council of Ministers, chaired by Tsvangirai, and Cabinet, chaired by Mugabe. Tsvangirai will, before long, find that decisions made by the Council will be overturned or even ignored at Cabinet if they do not fall in line with Mugabe's own policies and "vision".
Legally Mugabe will have a leg to stand on when he breaches the decisions of the Council because, as we witnessed today, the Council of Ministers is not equal to the cabinet. Tsvangirai has sought to lead people to believe that it is, just as he still seeks to make people that this government is a two-year government, when in fact Mugabe is very clear and has even told Tsvangirai to his face that this is a five-year government, in which Mugabe seeks to see through his "term of office" arising out of the June 27 presidential run-off hoax.
All roads leading to State House were blocked this morning for the function, with cars being diverted to take a circular route into or out of the city centre.
Policemen were stationed at all traffic lights and intersections going through to State House.
In attendance, apart from Grace Mugabe, who shook hands with and congratulated Tsvangirai and his deputies after their swearing in, were Amando Guebueza, President of Mozambique, A Mr Dos Santos, Foreign Affairs Minister of Angola, King Mswati III, Thabo Mbeki and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Foreign Affairs Minister of South Africa.
What I found puzzling was that Tsvangirai's supporters on the continent did not show up for his inauguration. Khama of Botswana was nowhere to be seen. Nor was Jakaya Kikwete, president of Tanzania, whom the state media have started to badmouth recently for his alleged closeness to the opposition leader. President Wade of Senegal, who is also a supporter of Tsvangirai, was also absent. Still, it was a good day.
On Friday, the ministers will be sworn in. It will be interesting to see who will swear them in, Mugabe or Tsvangirai. If it is Mugabe, as I fully expect, since he is the one that Chairs cabinet, then it will be final confirmation that Tsvangirai is being treated constitutionally as the First Minister and nothing more. Of course, no one is going to be sworn in to serve in the Council of Ministers (Chaired by Tsvangirai), because this is a body that will report to cabinet, so it is like a sub-committee.
Previous Articles (Please Click On One To Read The Full Post):
- Tsvangirai Announces Cabinet
- Anti-Simba Makoni Alliance Crumbles
- Jestina Mukoko Near Death
- Obamas Secret Message To Mugabe
- The Facts Behind The "Firing" Of Simba Makoni
- Starving Zimbabwean Villagers Destroy 40-Acre Maize Field in a Land Feud
- 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
- Tsvangirai Seeks A Face-saving Way To Join Government
- 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
- Mugabe Prepares To Arrest Tsvangirai
- 2 year old Freed From Zimbabwe Maximum Security Prison
- Jestina Mukoko - Real Reasons For Arrest Revealed
- Zimbabwe Approaches South Africa To Officially Use The Rand
- Zimbabwe Army Commander Demands Top Government Job