MDC-T says Tomato, Tsvangirai says Tomato

At this spot off the Limpopo River, three countries meet: Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa. Yes, those three different pieces of land in the picture are different countries. They are entirely self-governed countries and the thought that any one of them should tell another who to hire and fire in their own government is unthinkable. Tsvangirai understands this. His party does not. Therein lies the tomato. And the tomato.

A couple of months back, in an article on this blog entitled Real Reasons for the Mugabe/Tsvangirai Clash to Come, I predicted that the biggest fight between Mugabe and Tsvangirai would be over the definition of the words "executive power". I also said at the time the Prime Minister would do well to steer clear of this, because everyone could see it coming.

Besides, he would only be defeated by Mugabe because, lets face it, the MDC-T has lost its appetite for a scrap.

And what do you know, the Prime Minister, after knocking his head against the brick wall called Mugabe for a couple of months on civil service appointment, used the recent launch of his government's 100-Day Wishlist to explain at length what he understood the words "shall have executive power to mean.).

He quoted chapter.

He quoted verse.

And it is all still as clear as mud.

The GPA says Mugabe shall have executive power due to him from the constitution (the current idiotic quilt of amendments). Then its says, almost as an afterthought: "The Prime Minister shall also have executive authority".

I asked in the article, The Real Reason for the Mugabe/Tsvangirai Clash To Come: "Executive authority over what? Over whom?"

The GPA is silent on this burning question. So, Mugabe gets up to no good, mischief in the middle of the night, pilfering ministries from the MDC-T, jailing the odd Treasurer-General, appointing whoever he wants to be Permanent Secretary without so much as a "by your leave" to Tsvangirai. He insists Gono and Tomana are cast in stone........

The MDC-T as a party has now taken the view that the Governor and Attorney General are the outstanding issues. Tsvangirai knows how silly and a total waste of time it would be to ask foreign governments to compel Mugabe to fire a Zimbabwe civil servant.

It is unprecedented. And silly.

This is why Tsvangirai believes that the fight has to be within government. He understands what his party seems unable to understand. And it is this:

The real fight is over how much executive authority Mugabe is willing to cede to Tsvangirai. Willing.

This is because Mugabe draws his executive authority from the constitution, which clause Tsvangirai agreed to be included in the GPA he signed. And where does Tsvangirai draw his executive authority from?

Nowhere in the constitution is the authority of the Prime Minister defined. Instead, the constitution was tailored to an Executive Presidency and is specific on what he can and can not do, who he has authority over and who he hasn't. The Constitution has no room for a Prime Minister, although an amendment arising out of the GPA was passed. Instead, it puts all executive authority in the lap of the Head of State, who is also Head of Government.

Which is why Mugabe refused to let go of his chairmanship of cabinet. Had he given in to Tsvangirai's demands for this, that very act would have had the brilliance of conferring on Tsvangirai the same executive authority over government that Mugabe enjoys.

So, knowing this, Tsvangirai prefers the route of ploddingly trudging along behind the dictator, sidling up to him all the time in an effort to endear himself and thus gain the trust of the dictator. Once this happens and the dictator sees that Tsvangirai is not a Trojan Horse from Westminster, he may decide to cede part of the burden of governing to his Prime Minister.

This will take time. Tsvangirai knows this. And that is why Tsvangirai told Basildon Peta last week that elections are clearly not a priority for this government. Elections are the furthest thing from Tsvangirai's mind at the moment.

His party, meantime, acts as if it does not understand any of this, passing a resolution they knew to be meaningless at their National Congress at the weekend. In it, they called for elections to be held once the constitution is in place. They also rather pointlessly demanded the resignation of Gideo Gono and Johannes Tomana ("forthwith"!)

But feet are being dragged by both Mugabe and Tsvangirai. Their reasons are as different as day and night.

Still, like I said, the real fight here is over what the phrase "shall have executive authority" means for the two men." Truth be told, Tsvangirai is no Prime Minister, despite the title. Mugabe has not ceded any of his powers to his Prime Minister. He even still thinks that Tsvangirai's ministers serve not at the Prime Minister's pleasure, but at his own, even if they should be MDC-T nominees (witness Roy Bennett).


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