The significance of Mugabe swearing in Tsvangirai and his ministers was dismissed when I discussed it on this blog in February. The importance of that gesture is now becoming very clear as it emerges who it is that is, as Mugabe it, "firmly in control" It is a final defeat for the MDC and the Prime Minister, as events now show that they have responsibility, but not authority or power. And they are accepting this
Laughter was echoing through the corridors of State House yesterday afternoon, where, uncharacteristically, the dictator Robert Mugabe had showed up for work, meeting with the three ZANU PF Politubro members who are now virtually his kitchen cabinet.
It is the Politubro members who had called the meeting, concerned at the latest developments within the coalition government. Mugabe assured them that everything was in order and they need not worry.
The reason for the laughter was the Prime Minister's office statement issued to the press over the weekend declaring the disemboweling of Nelson Chamisa's ministry by Mugabe "null and void."
"Regai apedze shungu," the dictator said.
It is quite clear that Mugabe has no intention of reversing any of these things, and Tsvangirai knows it. But the Prime Minister is playing to the gallery here, issuing statements only to make himself look good with his half-informed, fanatic supporters who still refuse to accept that Prime Minster Tsvangirai has been finally defeated, utterly, by the dictator. He holds office without power, responsibility without authority.
And he is being humiliated by the very man he has now taken to calling "Father" - "Baba".
This is simply a statement of fact, which some will see as "hatred" for Tsvangirai. But that has never bothered me, because time has a way of proving me right so far.
Tsvangirai declared the appointments of Permanent Secretaries "null and void" before the accident that claimed his wife's life.
Have you heard about this matter since?
He also declared the appointments of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono and Attornery General Johannes Tomana null and void. Now we know that they are neither null nor void and the two men are not going anywhere.
Zimbabwe news is getting predictable, isn't it?
So, for the level-headed and realistic ones amongst us, I refer you back to an article I wrote a month ago on this very blog: "The Reason for the Mugabe/Tsvangirai Clash To Come".
Let me say, when a fish is caught on a hook, the best thing for it is to stop struggling because it will only hurt itself. It may escape, yes. But it would be fatally wounded, unable to feed and facing certain death.
So it is with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. In that article a month ago, I explained to you all that the clause that was never questioned by Morgan Tsvangirai in the agreement he signed, the one which says, "The Prime Minister shall have executive authority" was going to be the source of the problems between the two men.
Authority of whom? Over what? I asked. Because their agreement does not say, and Tsvangirai was too afraid to press home the point.
So it has come to pass.
Remember that I also told you that in "the battle to come" (it was still to come then), Tsvangirai would prove to be at a disadvantage and his regaining the advantage would entirely depend on the goodwill of Mugabe. It would, in other words, depend on what Mugabe was willing to give away to Tsvangirai out of the goodness of his heart, not because he has to.
Here's why: According to this Agreement of theirs, both Mugabe and Tsvangirai "shall have executive authority."
But, Tsvangirai's authority is not written down anywhere else, or detailed in any statutory instrument. Mugabe's powers. however, which Morgan Tsvangirai decided not to contest but to confirm in their agreement, are intact.
Worse, Mugabe's powers are contained in the constitution that we are currently operating under. Tsvangirai only has a job description, which also says that he reports to Mugabe, an act that the Prime Minister last week confirmed he does every Monday.
Hence, the position we have today, which is that the Prime Minister shall have whatever executive authority the president chooses to delegate to him.
Here's the bottom line: Mugabe is President. That role was not redefined in the Global Political Agreement. So Mugabe still chairs cabinet. He is the Head of state and government.
Yes, folks, according to that agreement, Tsvangirai is not even head of government, as a normal Prime Minister would be. He is instead head of the Council of Ministers.
The Council is like a task force, put together by the executive authority (cabinet, to which the agreement says the Council of Ministers reports) to deal with a specific mandate. In this case, the mandate is policy formulation and implementation. Nothing more and nothing less.
Tsvangirai is well aware of this. That is why, on the day he announced his pick of cabinet ministers, before he was sworn in, he made the following comment; "I hope that I, as Prime Minister, with responsibility for policy formulation and implementation, will be allowed to define the mandates of the ministers."
It was a hope.
Mugabe, as executive cabinet chair, makes appointments across the board. This is why Tsvangirai's ministers were sworn in by Mugabe. Some naive people thought at the time that I was pointing out the fact that the ministers were being sworn in by Mugabe just to get up the noses of MDC supporters.
Well, what we are seeing now is the reason why that swearing-in was important. If, as with other Prime Ministers, Tsvangirai had been allowed to swear in the ministers, you would know where the power over ministers and ministries lay - with him.
But it does not. And I think he had accepted that.
Legally, therefore, according to the constitution in operation in Zimbabwe, the President makes appointments of Permanent Secretaries and defines the mandates of the ministers. Their job descriptions are essentially written by Mugabe.
Tsvangirai did nothing to renegotiate this, so happy was he with the Prime Ministerial title that all that escaped him. He was outwitted. Which is not the end of the world.
Instead of trying to fight these little battles that will not count for anything, he should regroup and restrategise.
He knows this. But politically, there are gullible people out there who need to be assured by the PM, whom they support blindly, that he is still "tough" and can stare down Mugabe. He is doing nothing of the sort.
There are now too many "null and voids" that never go anywhere. Gono, Tomana, PermSecs etc
Of course, not a single newspaper or journalist is going to hold the Prime Minister to account when his words fall flat.
Permanent Secretaries? What happened? Nothing? Did any of the media ask the Prime Minister what he was going to do after the "null and void" statement? No.
So now he knows he can get away with it and issues a statement again on the Ministry of Communications issue.
He knows that, within two weeks, the issue will be forgotten, no journalist will follow it up and his supporters, having last heard the words "null and void", cheer him and say their man is in charge.
The issue dies a quiet death and matters remain as they are.
The Prime Minister knows this. The President knows this. They all know this.
It is the supporters, especially the MDC ones, whom I pity. Still, they cling to the title, Honourable Prime Minister.
It is all they have, even if it means absolutely nothing. But I will give them that, at least.
Still, the dictator wins again.