In-Fighting In Tsvangirai's MDC "Frightening" - PM's Office

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai chats with President Robert Mugabe at State House after the President had sworn in ministers nominated by the Prime Minister from his own party to replace those he had fired

Harare, Zimbabwe 18 July 2010

A source extremely close to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai this last week described the fighting in Tsvangirai's party as "frightening" while claiming that the opposition party is so disorganised that "we will never take power from ZANU PF".

The source, a confidant of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, blamed all the infighting on the Prime Minister, saying he was told "not to rock the boat" but went ahead anyway to reshuffle the cabinet on his side."

The source also confirmed that Tendai Biti, the Finance Minister in Zimbabwe's coalition government and MDC-Tsvangirai's Secretary-General was saved from being reshuffled or fired by President Mugabe himself.

"The PM came back from a Monday meeting one day and said he thought that Biti was now more liked by Mugabe than he was. I asked why and PM said Mugabe had told him point-blank that he would refuse to swear in anyone nominated by Tsvangirai to replace Biti because the president said Biti was doing an excellent job."

Also confirmed was the firing of James Maridadi, the Prime Minister's spokesman. Although the fact has not been made public, my source says that Maridadi is now the new Director of Protocol in the Prime Minister's office.

Maridadi apparently wanted to resign when he was told of the reassignment, but Ian Makone, the PM's Permanent Secretary, convinced him to accept the post of Director of Protocol, to which Maridadi replied on Friday last week (16 July 2010) saying he would think about it.

It also emerges that, apart from their government salaries, the people in the Prime Minister's Office also each get US$4 000 from Harvest House, the MDC-T Headquarters.

But much more interesting are descriptions of the war of attrition between Tsvangirai and Biti.

Tsvangirai, reportedly against all advice, first made the mistake of firing Eliphas Mukonoweshuro and effectively replacing him with Jamieson Timba, who is now the most powerful man in the Prime Minister's circle.

My source says: "How can you fire Mukonoweshuro and replace him with Timba, a drunk who spends all his time at the Quill Club at Jamieson Hotel drinking whisky and boasting to journalists.

Mukonoweshuro is the only man to have made a Cabinet Presentation which was accepted by Mugabe and cabinet without debate. After he made his presentation, Mugabe said to the cabinet, "This is the best presentation I have ever listened to in Cabinet since I started presiding over these meeting in 1980. I recommend that we have nothing further to add and must adopt this presentation without amendment".

Tsvangirai was apparently told not to do the reshuffle by members of his office and party officials but he was determined to weed out all elements he considered to be part of a grand strategy by Tendai Biti to wrestle power from him and hand it over to Strive Masiyiwa at the next Congress.

Tsvangirai told my source: "Cut the roots and the tree will wither." This is what is behind the wholesale massacre currently taking place at the MDC and at the Prime Minister's office.

The whole secretariat at Party HQ has effectively been demolished, with Biti loyalists being fired.

According to my source, Elias Mudzuri, the fired Minister of Energy, is also so bitter that he has vowed that he will see Tsvangirai depart before he himself leaves MDC-T.

While Timba is telling people that there will be no Congress next year and that Tsvangirai will stay at the head of the MDC for twenty more years, Biti and other detractors are determined to see him go.

The fight is principally about whether a Congress should be held next year, when it is due. Tsvangirai says there should be no Congress so that the party can concentrate on the elections, while Biti, Mudzuri and many others in his executive say the rules and Constitution of the party should not be broken that way because it will set a bad precedent for any future leaders of the party, who will feel they can ignore the constitution if they are popular enough to railroad the party's executive.

Executives in the party are dismayed that the Prime Minister continues to display strategic blunders, such as his daily conference calls with Americans helping him run his office and the seconding of a British official to his Office in Harare.

Tsvangirai still believes that he has enough popular appeal to get away with anything. He has openly said that he could declare himself Life President of the MDC-T and still win a national election to become Head of State in Zimbabwe.

The majority of the executive in the MDC-T, however, believe that he is no longer fit to lead the party and this is what has led Tsvangirai to rely more and more on his so-called "Kitchen Cabinet."

Meantime, the former Spokesman, James Maridadi, is threatening to spill the beans on the infighting and deficiencies of Morgan Tsvangirai in a book. He has told his confidants that he has volumes of meticulously-kept diaries. "I sat with PM during his meetings with Obama at the White House, I sat through his meetings with Gordon Brown at 10 Downing Street. I have been at the side of the PM constantly since he became PM and I have mounds of information," he is reported as telling one.

Even I can't wait to read the stuff!


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