Tsvangirai Adopts Mugabe's Ruthless Tactics

Harare, Zimbabwe, 22 August 2009

Well, it was always self-evident to the objective observer.

Now, the government of Morgan Tsvangirai has come out in the open about their admiration of ZANU PF tactics.

I am talking about the firing of doctors who were on strike, demanding better working conditions and salaries.

Here, there is no excuse. This issue has nothing to do with "hardliners" or being forced to do anything by SADC or Thabo Mbeki. This is deliberate policy decision taken by Morgan Tsvangirai's government.

The MDC-Tsvangirai controls the ministry of health. That's the first thing.

Second, the Prime Minister never tires of telling us that he is in charge of policy formulation and implementation.

So now we know what sort of policies he is formulating and implementing.

These are policies that refuse to engage the legitimate demands of the doctors who are labouring under slave conditions, putting their lives at risk working in unsafe hospital conditions and for a pittance.

Instead of addressing their concerns, Tsvangirai has his Ministers of Health and Public Service dismiss these doctors.

When Tendai Biti was honest enough to tell the country that he had no money and would pay only US$100 allowances to civil servants (including doctors), the health professionals still flocked back into Zimbabwe to put their shoulders to the wheel and help this country get ahead.

Now that Tsvangirai, in a political decision, has put pressure on the Finance Minister to describe the pittance they are getting as "salaries" and not allowances, they are justifiably up in arms, because they can see no end to this.

Besides this, these hardworking professionals, whose skills Zimbabwe sorely needs, watch in helpless horror as the Prime Minister arranges to blow US$5 million on a retreat in Nyanga for every government employee and their grandmother, while he authorises wasteful foreign travels that chewed up more than US$11 million in the first six months of this Inclusive Government alone.

The doctors are right to ask: "If money can be found for these wasteful things, how come there is no money to pay them? How come there is no money to buy adequate equipment and drugs?

While the National AIDS Council blows more than a million US dollars on workshops and travel, these same doctors have to watch helplessly as they turn away AIDS and HIV patients for lack of ARVs.

The doctors have genuine concerns and Tsvangirai's government must address them instead of using threats of dismissal and victimisation to keep workers subjugated.

When the MDC was in opposition and not part of government, they were the first to always defend the strikes by health workers, they rubbed their hand with glee as workers downed tools in protest at their plight.

The MDC-T pointed fingers and acted as if they had the solutions to these workers' concerns. Yet, as I have always said, their solution has always been to go begging.

The strike by doctors is about one thing and one thing alone: Morgan Tsvangirai is not walking his talk. He expects people who supported him and levered him into the Prime Ministerial office to tighten their belts while he loosens his?

He expects them to keep their heads down even as he insults them with the lavish expenditure of his and Mugabe's government?

And now, adding salt to the injury, he wields the axe on those who dare demand that they be treated like professionals and human beings?

How different is his reaction to the doctors strike from Mugabe's own reaction?

Mugabe crafted laws designed to cow the workforce by threatening them with loss of jobs and livelihoods. Tsvangirai is now simply picking up where Mugabe left off.

The civil servants can see for themselves that there is no hope of their plight being addressed by this Inclusive MisGovernment. They see their suffering stretching for the next five years without being the opportunity to throw these bums out of government through the ballot box.

While Tsvangirai misleads the world about functioning hospitals and schools, while he claims credit for a dollarisation drive that he had nothing to do with, he is refusing to face the reality that he does not have what it takes to change the fortunes of this country.

Mugabe's insincerity in the Inclusive Government has nothing to do with this at all. SADC are not a factor, as I have said.

The MDC and its apologists, used to passing the buck and never taking responsibility for anything, can not escape this one. This was their opportunity to show the world that they have indeed changed the culture of governance in Zimbabwe.

They have failed to do so.

It is a crying shame and the sooner they all clear out the better. This country and its long-suffering citizens do not deserve to be treated like this at all.

Was it not Tsvangirai who bemoaned the brain drain in the health sector when he leader of the opposition, before he capitulated to Mugabe?

Was it not he who said it was policy bankruptcy that had led to this?

Where are his policies now?


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