Tsvangirai Offers Makoni Finance Minister Job?

Simba Makoni holds up the Finance Minister's Briefcase in 2002, just before presenting Zimbabwe's national budget for that year. Even back then, Makoni was reluctant to take the job and hesitated until Mugabe called him to say he could not wait announcing his cabinet any longer and that he would announce the cabinet without a Finance Minister if he did not get a response from Makoni by the end of that day.

Harare, Zimbabwe, 18 July 2010

Dr Simba Makoni paid what was dubbed a "courtesy call" on Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last week, amidst persistent reports from within the MDC-T that Morgan Tsvangirai has proposed him for the Finance Minister position in a bid to get rid of Tendai Biti, whom the Prime Minister is in a bitter fight with for control of the MDC-T.

Sources in the Prime Minister's office say Tsvangirai proposed Makoni to Mugabe for the second time just last week, with the president refusing flat out to entertain the idea of the former Finance Minister bouncing back as a Tsvangirai nominee.

Tsvangirai says it is his prerogative to decide who he appoints for the slots allocated to him in the Inclusive Government. He told reportedly told Mugabe that Makoni had resigned from the Finance Minister post in the earlier this decade because he did not agree with the policies of the then ZANU PF government but that he was sure the Interim President of Mavambo party would accept appointment now because Tsvangirai would guarantee him a free hand in trying to correct the economic ills besetting the country.

Mugabe is said to have used the argument that Makoni was not MDC-T and could therefore, not take up any position reserved for the opposition in the coalition party.

Some reports say the meeting between Makoni and Tsvangirai last week was for Makoni to tell Tsvangirai that he was not interested in the nomination or the post. Makoni, who is on good terms with Biti, would almost certainly not look kindly on being used to try and settle scores within the MDC-T.

But Tsvangirai is in corner, unable to identify a suitable candidate who would be seen to be appointed on the basis of merit and not on the basis of "fixing" Biti.

The MDC-T sources say that it would be a mistake to believe that Biti is now safe after the reshuffle, saying the Prime Minister is "determined" to see the back of his Secretary-General as Finance Minister of Zimbabwe.

"PM says Biti has grown too big for his boots, using the post he was given by Tsvangirai himself to position himself as the natural heir to the MDC-T presidency."

They claim that Tsvangirai is continuing to look and even if Makoni remains adamant he will not join the Inclusive Government gravy train, the PM will source people from within the private sector itself to fill the post of Finance Minister.

Tsvangirai wants to continue to push Mugabe on this and believes that, eventually, the President will have no option but to appoint a replacement if Tsvangirai identifies a replacement of quality.

The Prime Minister says he will not, once that is done, hesitate to announce the suspension of "redeployment" of Biti back to the party and leave Mugabe in a quandary, with no Finance Minister to run this crucial ministry.

The Finance Minister post in the Inclusive Government is not deputised, neither by a ZANU PF nor an MDC appointee, making Biti perhaps the only Minister in the coalition without a deputy.

I remain doubtful that Tsvangirai will be able to convince Makoni to join the Inclusive Government, seeing as the former SADC Secretary - General and Presidential candidate is busy setting up structures of his own party.

At the same time, sources in the PM's office say that Makoni also denied flat out to Tsvangirai that he had, as rumoured, met with the fired MDC-T ministers Fidelis Mhashu and Elias Mudzuri.

Harare had been awash with talk that the former ministers were in discussions with Makoni, with a view to forming an alliance designed to presenting a united front against Tsvangirai at the next elections.

Mudzuri is the Organising Secretary of the MDC-T, who was given the ultimatum by Tsvangirai to choose whether he chose to continue as Minister or to go back to the party and strengthen structures. He had told Tsvangirai that he could do both and thought the matter had been rested, only to get the shock of his life when he was told that he was being fired from government in order for him to go back and concentrate on party affairs.

The talk about Tsvangirai offering Makoni the post of Finance Minister will almost certainly not abate until such time as Tsvangirai eventually finds a replacement.


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