Tsvangirai Sworn In By Mugabe

The latest news from Zimbabwe is about the swearing in of Morgan Tsvangirai.

Juts before 12 midday Zimbabwe time (about an hour ago as I write this), at the State House in Harare, Morgan Tsvangirai was called forward by Robert Mugabe to take his oath of office as the First Minister of State, otherwise known as the Prime Minister.

In a ceremony that peeled away all the posturing and showed where true power lies in the new inclusive government, Morgan Tsvangirai then raised his hand, facing Mugabe and took his oath of office.

He was followed by Arthur Mutambara and then Thokozani Khupe.

I was watching the moment closely because it was the first time we got to see first hand where the real power lay in this new creature and there is no doubt that it lies with Mugabe as Head of State.

Here's why:

Instead of being sworn in by the Chief Justice of Zimbabwe as Mugabe was, Tsvangirai was sworn in by Mugabe. The significance of this lies in the fact that, despite Tsvangirai's previous protestations that he was on par with Mugabe in a government of equals, he will actually be reporting to the "President".

Point number two is the actual oath itself. In this oath, Tsvangirai swore to serve faithfully as Prime Minister, as expected, but then he was also sworn into cabinet and had to say that he will offer, to the best of ability, advice to the president in that cabinet. There was no mention of the Council of Ministers, which Tsvangirai Chairs, while Mugabe chairs cabinet.

The significance of this is that it is clear that the Council of Ministers has virtually no standing constitutionally. It is only an operational detail, an organisational convenience. It was not mentioned at all during the swearing in. But the cabinet, which Mugabe will chair and which Tsvangirai had to swear to respect and to serve faithfully, was mentioned by all three people sworn in today.

This is important because I fully expect that arguments that will crop up in future will be related to the powers of the Council of Ministers, chaired by Tsvangirai, and Cabinet, chaired by Mugabe. Tsvangirai will, before long, find that decisions made by the Council will be overturned or even ignored at Cabinet if they do not fall in line with Mugabe's own policies and "vision".

Legally Mugabe will have a leg to stand on when he breaches the decisions of the Council because, as we witnessed today, the Council of Ministers is not equal to the cabinet. Tsvangirai has sought to lead people to believe that it is, just as he still seeks to make people that this government is a two-year government, when in fact Mugabe is very clear and has even told Tsvangirai to his face that this is a five-year government, in which Mugabe seeks to see through his "term of office" arising out of the June 27 presidential run-off hoax.

All roads leading to State House were blocked this morning for the function, with cars being diverted to take a circular route into or out of the city centre.

Policemen were stationed at all traffic lights and intersections going through to State House.

In attendance, apart from Grace Mugabe, who shook hands with and congratulated Tsvangirai and his deputies after their swearing in, were Amando Guebueza, President of Mozambique, A Mr Dos Santos, Foreign Affairs Minister of Angola, King Mswati III, Thabo Mbeki and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Foreign Affairs Minister of South Africa.

What I found puzzling was that Tsvangirai's supporters on the continent did not show up for his inauguration. Khama of Botswana was nowhere to be seen. Nor was Jakaya Kikwete, president of Tanzania, whom the state media have started to badmouth recently for his alleged closeness to the opposition leader. President Wade of Senegal, who is also a supporter of Tsvangirai, was also absent. Still, it was a good day.

On Friday, the ministers will be sworn in. It will be interesting to see who will swear them in, Mugabe or Tsvangirai. If it is Mugabe, as I fully expect, since he is the one that Chairs cabinet, then it will be final confirmation that Tsvangirai is being treated constitutionally as the First Minister and nothing more. Of course, no one is going to be sworn in to serve in the Council of Ministers (Chaired by Tsvangirai), because this is a body that will report to cabinet, so it is like a sub-committee.

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  1. Politicians often misinform their followers, just for the sake of having them to feel good.Anyone who is familiar with such arrangements knows very well that Tsvangirai is an appointee of the President and he reports to the President. He can never try to inflate himself to be at par with the President.He is a first Minister. The cabinet obviously will be sworn by the President. He should not claim and fool people that he has the same powers and authority as the President.He is a junior partner, if the truth be told. When one tries to tell such truth, you hear angry voices from certain quarters, shouting and labelling you a Zanu PF apologist, or some anti Tsvangirai activist, and yet you will only be trying to tell the truth.I wonder how they felt when they saw Tsvangirai making his oath before the President.

  2. I hope he is given access to more power to be able to re stimulate Zimbabwe's Economy and I pray to God that this country finds within it's roots the way to sustainability in the True Africa Spirit.

  3. Wasn't he supposed to be sworn in by the President according to the Constitutional Ammendment 19?

    To me I think the most important thing is not whop swears in Morgan or the Ministers but rather how much authority will Morgan be allowed to excercise. That will detyermine whether he is going to be a success or a failure.

    Swearing in is just a technicality..

  4. Elli and Anonymous I like your spirit, who swears in who is not important. What is important is whether there would be the right team dynamics within the coalition government to enable sustainable development in Zimbabwe.
    It would be best if we all wait and see how the coalition government will perform instead of acting the false prophets and predicting doom and gloom at the very beginning before the coalition government is fully in action.
    I don't think it is proper to sow in seeds of disharmony in the coalition government by pointing out how so and so has more power than so and so even if it's true before anything has happened that clearly shows how bad that is. I want to believe that you have the best interests of Zimbabwe at heart and if you do you will agree with me that at the moment what is important is to support the coalition government to rebuild a collapsed nation and we don't do that by making pessimistic predictions in every article we write on our blogs.
    Let me conclude this comment by pointing out how President Barrack Obama won the election not by doing down other leaders' or parties' efforts but by selling his vision for the country to the people without stooping to cheap politics of destroying what others are trying to build.

  5. @Eusebia,

    You are wrong, Obama did win the election by doing down McCain and Bush. He never missed a chance to tell the people how rong McCain's policies were.

    He trashed McCain for supporting offshore drilling, for supporting tax cuts for the rich and so on.

    You can not campaign without pointing out the faults of your competitor, otherwise you should get out of the game completely and become a supporter of your opponent.

    If our vision differs from the vision other people have, we will say why we think their vision is wrong and hence why we believe people should question their leaders.

    The days of following blindly are OVER and OVER for good.

    As they say, you can not make an omelette without breaking an egg. If we want a better Zimbabwe, we must hold leaders to account and stop praising blindly.

  6. Some people always fail to make sound analysis, for fear of being labelled pessimists. This kind of perception is normally leads to blindly follow who ever is on the lead.We have question and criticise issues that have a bearing on our lives. We should seek clarity where we are misinformed and offer opinions without bias or fear. That is a problem that has developed amongst lots of Zimbabweans, effects of the polarised nature of our politics, the moment you question or criticise anything omitted or committed by MDC, automatically you are labelled Zanu Pf, or one who does not want change, or somebody benefitting from Zanu PF, the same happens if you do the same to Zanu Pf, who are labelled MDC etc.We should move away from this syndrome.
    The TEAM from this blog have said it, Time for YEBO NKOSI, YES BAAS, YES SIR, all day every day in everything is past.

  7. The team, you are right, Obama was into constructive criticism, constructive criticism is indeed good and it's not the same as doing someone down because that would be called destructive criticism. It's not constructive criticism when you start criticising a coalition government that has not started implementing its policies yet. I am of the opinion that you wait and see how the coalition government will perform instead of acting the false prophets and predicting doom and gloom at the very beginning before the coalition government is fully in action. You should base your criticisms on facts, just like what Obama did in the instances you mentioned and not on what you think is going to happen which is what you are doing in your article.

    I also believe in questioning leaders and pointing out where they go wrong, will not follow blindly, but I also believe in innocence until proven guilty and giving credit where credit is due. In this instance credit has to be given to Tsvangirai for putting the interests of the suffering people above his own hunger for unshared power. I give him credit for not making trivialities like the fact that Mugabe will be swearing him in an issue like you are doing in your article. I am of the opinion that it would have been proper if you had waited until Mugabe and Tsvangirai start to step on each other's feet because of the unequal powers of the head of the cabinet and the head of the council of ministers. As it is, mentioning it now before anything happens might be interpreted by many as trying to destroy a good thing that is being built.


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