Mugabe Threatens To Fire MDC-T Ministers
Ministers from MDC and ZANU PF take the oath of office in front of Mugabe and Tsvangirai in February this year. Mugabe announced yesterday through his Ministers of Information and Agricultural Mechanisation that he may appoint Acting Ministers to take over from MDC-T ministers because government business is being affected by the Prime Minister's decision not to attend cabinet.
Harare, Zimbabwe, 28 October 2009
Robert The Solution Mugabe has now come up with another one, this time sending his ministers to spread word that he is considering firing "key" MDC-T ministers and appointing Acting ministers in their stead.
This is not posturing or empty threats.
Instead, it is a well-calculated move designed specifically to divert attention.
After Mugabe appoints the Acting Ministers, what will happen is that he would have set the agenda.
The end result will be that, all of a sudden, the appointment of Acting Ministers will suddenly become THE issue. People will start running around trying to diffuse that specific crisis.
By the time Mugabe reverses the appointment of Acting Ministers, the real issues over which Tsvangirai is disengaging will be forgotten. Instead, Tsvangirai and the MDC-T will suddenly start crowing about having forced Mugabe to climb down from the appointment of Acting executives in MDC-T ministries.
Bennett, Governors, Security Services reform and all the rest of the originally issues will be lost in the dust storm raised by Mugabe.
It is a sly move but one that, if Tsvangirai is clever enough, he will ignore and keep his eye on the ball, take it to its logical conclusion (which is only two days away, anway).
Information and Publicity Minister (ZANU PF) Shamu and that bungling old fool Joseph Made who is in charge of a useless ministry called Farm Mechanisation have simply been sent to try and stampede the MDC-T back into government. Morgan Tsvangirai and his ministers boycotted Cabinet again yesterday, and Mugabe is simply trying to pile pressure on Tsvangirai by leaking this threat.
The justification being used by ZANU PF and Mugabe for "considering" appointing Acting Ministers "to key positions" is that Cabinet decisions need to be implemented "expeditiously". This is not happening right now because the MDC-T is not attending cabinet, although all their ministers are at their posts, doing their work.
It is almost certain now that this issue of appointing Acting Ministers will be tabled by Mugabe to the SADC delegation that is coming to Zimbabwe tomorrow. Again, the objective would be to ensure that pressure is piled onto the MDC-T and change the agenda of the crisis.
It is also revealed today that the Prime Minister presented the president with a catalogue of his demands when the Principals met on Monday. Top of the agenda was the reform of Security Services, disbanding of JOC in actual fact and not just in word, appointment of Roy Bennett as Deputy Minister of Agriculture and the appointment of Resident Ministers and Governors.
Mugabe is said to have responded by saying that the Governors should not have been included in the agreement by the negotiators because they are presidential representatives, appointed to represent Mugabe in the provinces of Zimbabwe.
He refused to budge.
On Bennett, again he refused to swear him until he is cleared of the shady arms charges against him.
Morgan Tsvangirai then retreated from insistence on reform of the Security Services and instead said he would attend cabinet if Bennett and the Governors were sworn into office.
Mugabe told him to go and hang.
The failure by Tsvangirai to attend cabinet yesterday was a bold move on his part, but it is only brinkmanship.
As I have noted before, the MDC-T has no option but to go back into government, even by the Prime Minister's own admission.
The point will sink home after the SADC ministerial team visits Zimbabwe tomorrow, after which they will, of course, simply say that the two should discuss their outstanding issues. This will drive home the point to Tsvangirai that SADC has washed its hands of Zimbabwe and the Prime Minister will have to summon all his wits to outfox the Old Fox on home ground.
It is possible, and it is puzzling that the Prime Minister fails to see this. It would not happen in a day or a month, but it is possible.
I can not mention the tactics and possible avenues he can pursue here.
Intricate knowledge of the dynamics of ZANU PF internal power struggles is key.
Still, the upshot is that the Prime Minister need not stampede himself into government over this announcement by ZANU PF ministers, it is a upping of pressure and an attempt to change the agenda of the crisis by Mugabe, nothing more.
After the SADC team confirms its "hands-off approach", the MDC-T will be able to see clearly the way forward, which will simply be that they have to go back into the lion's den and try to subdue the beat.
The greatest question, asked ever since Tsvangirai signed the agreement with Mugabe, is simple: Does Tsvangirai have what it takes.
His National Council and Executive Council are convinced that Tsvangirai does not have what it takes. They know that he lacks the skills to work his way around Mugabe, especially after outsiders like SADC say that they can not interfere in civil service appointments of a member government.
Yet they can not do anything to Tsvangirai, who is effectively now running the MDC-T by decree.
So, there is a lot of hot air about today, but by Friday evening, when the SADC team departs, a cold wind will sweep over Zimbabwe's political landscape, bringing everyone in the Inclusive Government to their senses.
Then, we will know for sure.