Mugabe rebuffs Tsvangirai

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is resolutely snubbing former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai who is keen to talk to him, firstly over his exit package and lately over the welfare of his office staff laid off from government service without any benefits after the July 31 general elections.

Owen Gagare

Mugabe and Tsvangirai, once bitter enemies, found their relationship “evolving” with time while ostensibly working together to revive the country’s socio-economic fortunes in the ended inclusive government, but fell out again ahead of the polls when Mugabe unilaterally declared election dates without implementing agreed reforms.

The two have not met since the elections despite public overtures by Tsvangirai who is keen to discuss his package and iron out several issues with the veteran leader. Mugabe is however miffed that Tsvangirai has refused to accept his election victory and will not engage him unless he publicly accepts defeat.

Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party insists Mugabe and Zanu PF’s poll triumph was anchored in widespread vote-rigging and voter disenfranchisement and has thus refused to accept the results.

However, attempts by Tsvangirai and his party to challenge the outcome have proved abortive.

Mugabe has gone ahead to dismiss all civil servants who were working in the premier’s office, an action deemed by the Tsvangirai camp to be futile.

MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora told the Zimbabwe Independent this week Tsvangirai wanted to engage Mugabe over the plight of those previously employed by government in the former Prime Minister’s office but have since been dismissed.

He said the new government laid off workers without giving them any remuneration, resulting in many of them falling on hard times.

“Most of the employees who were in the Prime Minister’s office received letters from government informing them that their employment contracts were being terminated.

“The government has abandoned them; they have been left jobless and they have not been paid,” said Mwonzora.

Under Zimbabwe’s labour laws, an employer cannot lay off workers willy nilly and without any compensation but must seek approval of the Ministry of Labour before taking this route. While there’s no formula that is cast in dye, a retrenched employee should, as a bare minimum be paid should four months’ salary. They can’t go empty-handed.

“The Prime Minister has been seeking audience with Mugabe on how the government should address the plight and welfare of these people, but the meeting has not yet been held. From what we are hearing, some officials want the former Prime Minister to declare Mugabe won the election fairly.”

Sadc and the African Union described the July and 31 elections as free and peaceful, but did not declare them as free and fair. Major international players such as the United States, the UK and the European acknowledge that while there was no violence before, during and after the elections as in previous ones, the worst being in 2008, this year’s polls were neither credible nor fair.

Mugabe’s hardliners, through the exit package issue and the former government workers, is therefore armtwisting Tsvangirai into pronouncing the election free and fair, which the former Prime Minister called a farce.

Mwonzora said the MDC-T, which also recently laid off some of its staff due to cash constraints, was trying to raise funds to assist the 31 civil servants laid off by government.

Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said although he could not speak on behalf of the Civil Service Commission, it was “curious” that all civil servants in the former Prime Minister’s office had been laid off.

“This includes staff seconded to the Prime Minister’s office from other government departments,” he said.

He however said his boss would not give in to Mugabe’s demands.
“He (Tsvangirai) has made it clear that he will not endorse the electoral theft for any reason. He will not sanitise theft,” said Tamborinyoka.

In September Tamborinyoka said Tsvangirai would discuss his package directly with Mugabe, but yesterday he confirmed the meeting was still to take place.

Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba could not be reached for comment as he was not answering his mobile phone. His secretary said he was attending meetings and later said he was travelling to Masvingo.

But Herald columnist Nathaniel Manheru, believed to be Charamba, a fortnight ago said Tsvangirai had nothing to gain by refusing to recognise Zanu PF’s victory. He suggested that Tsvangirai stood to benefit personally if he accepted defeat.

“Here is one about-turn which levies not an iota of a cost on him personally, on his party or his white benefactors. Yet it will restore him dignity, open new possibilities of engaging the winner in national spirit, for national gain. Yes, for personal gain. Even his supporters will gain too,” wrote Manheru.

“His former ministers, including his deputy, want assistance from the Zanu-PF government, as indeed does he too. But the bind is a simple one: how do you engage a government you don’t recognise? Once he recognises the obvious victory of Zanu PF, he leads his defeated supporters into becoming strong MDCs who are good, loyal citizens of the country.”

The fallout between Mugabe and Tsvangirai deepened when Tsvangirai took the elections dispute to Sadc leaders at their Lilongwe summit in Malawi, supplying them with a dossier detailing how Mugabe allegedly stole the elections, but his pleas fell on deaf ears as Mugabe was instead appointed Sadc deputy chair.

Tsvangirai also made a Constitutional Court (ConCourt) application seeking nullification of the results and the holding of fresh polls, but the case collapsed after the court refused him access to voting material to build a body of evidence. Although Tsvangirai decided to withdraw the case, the Concourt pressed ahead with the case and dismissed it, confirming Mugabe’s fresh term as the country’s president.

After the fallout, some hardliners in Zanu PF pushed for Tsvangirai’s eviction from the upmarket home he is staying in. The Highlands house was bought and renovated by the state for his official use. It was not included in his exit package, although there was an agreement that he could purchase it if he wanted.

Charamba told the Independent in August Tsvangirai deserved respect as a former premier and should be given an opportunity to buy the house.

Sources say Mugabe wants Tsvangirai to be afforded enough time to raise money to purchase the house, but has kept him in deep suspense by refusing to meet him.

15 thoughts on “Mugabe rebuffs Tsvangirai”

  1. ma1 says:

    jus be patient! Prophet Marxillar Mumo recently reminded us about the old man and his club.

  2. Globus Chazvimba says:

    Surely where do you have an employee working for four years in government or a private company getting a benefit or package? When the GNU was negotiated was there aver a clause regarding a severance/ exit package? If not what are we talking about. Join the bread ques.

    1. Chen Chikezha says:

      Chazvimba it is only Museyamwa’s companies that employ someone for four years and not give that person any package unless they had contracts that said after “four years no work and no golden handshake”. In other words was it a fixed term contract?

    2. Rob says:

      Lest we forget most of these workers were not loyal Civil servants but being used to run the parallel government from the Prime Minister’s office. They were over confident of a Tsvangirai victory in the July elections to a point that the majority of them refused to take instructions from their employer the Public Service Commission preferring to take instructions from Harvest house. Most of them had been promised senior positions in the Civil Service had Tsvangirai come to power. Harvest house and the donors should pay them the retrenchment packages. The Prime Minister’s office had a personnel establishment of 15 workers but the unofficial establishment was 70 workers some operating from his official offices and the rest scattered all over his clandestine offices in Harare.

  3. josephine says:

    @ Chazvimba, well said but if these officials were Zanu supporters, would they have been treated the same. Chinotimba was on the city’s payroll while spearheading farm invasions, clearly some animals are more equal than others

    1. Simba says:

      Josephine, “to the victor, goes the spoils”. hence no use speculating if these were zpf what would happen. zpf won, and i am sure if mdc won president mugabes office would have been dissolved without much ado.

  4. its unfair to treat the workers that way. Mwari pindirai.

  5. Black Crow says:

    if it is a labour issue then those employees should go to court. this is not a case of MDC T v ZANU JONGWE, it is about the welfare of individuals. they should not suffer because of politicians’ ego. MDC T on the other hand surely has not matured, by now they should have learnt the character of zanu jongwe and put plan B in case the legal route fails. they should just look for some money and pay those people four or five times their salaries as Mwonzora says. is its a problem?

    if you ride a lion make sure you dont disembark, once you do that it will turn around and devour you. MDC T did alot of PR for mugabe portraying him as a caring and sensible old man. where is the care now?

  6. NBS says:

    And that is one reason Zimbabwe is not at peace. If Mugabe was a man of peace and reached out to all Zimbabweans things would surely be different. This bitterness, malice and spite has gone a long way to destroying this nation. A leader is supposed to unify his people, has that ever really been done? No!
    The bible tells us that if we allow a root of bitterness to take root it will spring up and defile many. We need a godly leader; a man after God’s won heart like King David. a man who will be driven by the Spirit of Christ and not by the hatred and bitterness that runs through Zimbabwe today. Where is the forgiveness and where is the wisdom and where are the Godly men” may the Lord have mercy on Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai may have made many mistakes but we all know that July31st will NEVER add up in the Lord’s eyes. Something is terribly amiss and may all the truth come out for we shall know the truth and the truth shall set this nation free. The Lord Jesus is the truth!

  7. Tony Blair says:

    Do ministers have exit packages? Morgan was a minister, yes the most senior minister, but a minister all the same. Does that mean every time there is a cabinet reshuffle those who go out must get packages? Morgan is trying to raise money here. The donors ain’t as daft as they were 13 years ago and the boy is almost running on empty. Shame, shame, shame, shame, shame

    1. litshelikantunjambila says:

      tony blair tone down on the evil man.why would you wish for something bad to other people like this.he is the former prime minister so he should be treated like that …look at former president banana although he had his evil deeds but he was treated with respect.

  8. farai says:

    On the 6th of September, the staffers working in the former Prime Minister’s office were warned with dismissal after they all abandoned their work station at Charter Hse and relocated to Harvest House. Luke claimed he was never a civil servant and was never attested to the civil service. If you go AWOL from your work station without a written permission or notification do you expect to keep your job 8 weeks later? The warning was not heeded.

  9. farai says:

    If a meeting with the President was made possible by “making public overtures” then we have a desperate President. I am inclined to believe we have a former Prime Minister with an inflated ego and who overrates his own self worth. This tenant on a government property does not have a lease but he should start paying rent. He should get nothing for free because he does not deserve anything. We should stop rewarding treasonous sellouts, Ggbagbo discovered it too late that you do not humour sellouts given the smallest chance they will
    kill you. It’s time to destroy the MDC project once and for all.

  10. Lazy Boy says:

    Evil Farai

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