Zimbabwe's Mugabe Stops Ministers Reporting To Prime Minister Tsvangirai

While Morgan Tsvangirai was busy enjoying himself at the Davos World Economic Forum (above), back home in Zimbabwe, he was having the rug pulled from under him by Mugabe, who has instructed all ministers, including Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, to report to the two Vice presidents of Zimbabwe.

Harare, Zimbabwe, 05 February 2010

First of all, apologies to Isaac and other avid readers who have fired off emails DEMANDING that I update the blog!!!! (I appreciate your keen interest).

The lapse in updating the blog has been the result of a few developments over here in Zimbabwe that took me away from my computer for a few days - out in the bush, my other means of connecting are not as reliable as the broadband in Harare.

Now to today's story.

In a stunning development revealed by The Independent here today, one of the men I have previously identified as one of the three most powerful men in Zimbabwe, Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, has written to all Ministers telling them that they should no longer report to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in the absence of Robert "The Solution" Mugabe, aka Dr Evil.

The instruction was prompted by confusion over the January 2010 period when Mugabe was on his official leave and Tsvangirai stepped in to have ministers report to him on government business.

This did not go down well with Vice President Mujuru, who was Acting President during the period and she took it up with Dr Evil.

Mugabe is now accusing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai aka Prime Minister Mini-me, of trying to stage a palace coup in his absence.

But Tsvangirai is being defiant.

He has fired off a counter memo to ministers asking them to ignore the communication from the Secretary to the Cabinet and continue reporting to him. Tsvangirai's memo is going even further to suggest that the ministers should report to him even if Mugabe is back in office. His argument is that he conducts government business through the Council of Ministers to which all ministers belong. Tsvangirai in turn then reports to Mugabe on government business conducted in the Council of Ministers.

It is a messy little tiff that Tsvangirai is guaranteed to lose, primarily because of the huge blunders he made within the Global Political Agreement that serves as the foundation of the Inclusive Government (the coalition government between Tsvangirai and Mugabe that now runs Zimbabwe).

To understand the reason why Tsvangirai is losing this particular battle, you have to understand that the MDC-Tsvangirai blunder in signing the GPA was in retaining Mugabe's powers intact, pretty much.

When Mugabe goes on leave or is outside the country, therefore, he appoints an Acting President, who nominally assumes the powers Mugabe has in the GPA and in the Constitution of Zimbabwe as it stands now.

That means, in Mugabe's absence, there is always a Vice President executing his official duties (except Cabinet meetings, which are suspended if Mugabe is on leave on out of the country and can only ever be chaired by Mugabe, not even by an Acting President from ZANU PF).

Tendai Biti, MDC-Tsvangirai Secretary General and Zimbabwe's Finance Minister, is dismissing the memo from the Cabinet office as irrelevant and not enforceable, but he misses the point, as the MDC-T often do.

They really have to understand that they are dealing with a ZANU PF and a Zimbabwean president (Mugabe) who consider the Coalition with MDC-Tsvangirai as a trifling inconvenience that they have to put up with for a short period before assuming total control of government and Zimbabwe again (almost certainly through another deeply flawed "electoral process")

Further to all these dynamics, Sibanda's memo to Zimbabwe cabinet ministers is an attempt by Mugabe to accommodate his new Vice President, John Nkomo, who replaced the late Joseph Msika.

The circular specifically says Vice President Nkomo will oversee the "economic areas of administration of government business." This is further clarified by naming the ministries Nkomo will oversee: Ministries of Finance, Economic Planning, Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development, Mines, Industry, Energy, Regional Integration and, finally, Environment and Natural Resources Management.

The other Vice-president (who has been Acting President in Mugabe's absence this year), Joyce Mujuru, is responsible for the "general supervision" of ministries responsible for the social, agricultural and infrastructural business of Zimbabwe.

In essence the memo is designed to strip Morgan Tsvangirai of any pretensions to any power and have him report to the two Vice presidents instead of to Mugabe. It is designed to send Tsvangirai teh message that, far from being "on par" with Mugabe as claimed by the MDC, he actually ranks below Mugabe, Mujuru and Nkomo.

All this, of course, is coming after ZANU PF decided that it would not make any more concessions to the MDC-Tsvangirai, especially, until and unless sanctions are lifted "unconditionally". ZANU PF says the statement by British Foreign Secretary David Milliband that the UK would only lift sanctions on the advice of the MDC shows that Tsvangirai is the one in charge of the strangling of Zimbabwe's credit lines and balance of payment support from international donors and Bretton Woods institutions.

After this, there can be no doubt in anybody's mind that Mugabe can not be rid of this government soon enough.



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