THE power struggle between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai intensified this week after Mugabe â€œunilaterallyâ€ announced the appointment of permanent secretaries without consultations with Tsvangirai.
The global political agreement which led to the inclusive government created two centres of power, one in Mugabeâ€™s office and the other in Tsvangiraiâ€™s and this has become a source of infighting in the government.
The battle exploded into the public this week when Tsvangirai lambasted Mugabe for unilaterally appointing permanent secretaries without consulting him and others as required by the political agreement.
He also slammed the stateâ€™s failure to release political prisoners â€œas agreedâ€ and agricultural disruptions caused by farm invasions.
Mugabe was expected to fuel the wrangling last night in a state television interview in which he challenges the MDC on a number of fronts and rejects calls to adopt the South African rand as the official currency.
The political war is expected to intensify after the MDCâ€™s national executive meets today to â€œreview the status and performance of the inclusive government in relation to the partyâ€™s expectationsâ€.
Sources in Zanu PF told the Zimbabwe Independent that Mugabe told a politburo meeting on Wednesday that the party should take on the MDC in government.
Tsvangirai this week confirmed that the operation of the unity government was under threat when he attacked Mugabe.
The prime minister told journalists and diplomats at his Munhumutapa offices in Harare on Wednesday that despite the inclusive government, â€œparallel forcesâ€ â€” apparently in Zanu PF and state structures â€” were undermining the new regime and were blocking the resolution of outstanding issues besetting the deal.
Contentious issues include the appointment of senior government officials such as permanent secretaries and ambassadors, appointment of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana, provincial governors and the continued detention of political and civic society activists, among them deputy Agriculture minister-designate Roy Bennett.
In addition disputes over the mandates of various ministries have emerged, in particular in the Ministry of Information Communication Technology headed by Nelson Chamisa and the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity led by Webster Shamu.
Tsvangirai was livid that Mugabe had announced the appointment of permanent secretaries on Tuesday in contravention of both the global agreement and the constitution.
He cited article 20.1.7 of the eighth schedule that states that: â€œThe parties agree that with respect to occupants of senior government positions, such as permanent secretaries and ambassadors, the leadership in government, comprising the president, the vice-presidents, the prime minister and deputy prime ministers, will consult and agree on such prior to their appointment.â€
Tsvangirai said no civil servant has the authority to make such appointments or announcements.
â€œTherefore the announcement of the permanent secretaries has no force of law and is therefore null and void. The permanent secretaries who were in position as of September 15th will remain in post in an acting capacity until the matter is resolved.â€Â
Tsvangirai said the appointments of Gono and Tomana have to be â€œdealt with and resolved immediatelyâ€ arguing that it was in line with the Sadc communiquÃ© issued in Pretoria on January 27 which stated that: â€œthe appointments of the Reserve Bank governor and attorney-general will be dealt with by the inclusive government after its formationâ€.
â€œAs long as these matters remain unresolved it will be impossible for the transitional government to move forward with the reforms that this country so desperately needs,â€ said Tsvangirai.
However, Mugabe has ruled out the possibility of nullifying â€œany statutory appointments legally madeâ€.
Mugabe told ZBC on Wednesday in an interview to mark his 85th birthday that Gono, Tomana and anyone whose appointment â€œwas done legallyâ€ will not go.
He said their appointments were done legally and they were vetted by the responsible authorities to ascertain their suitability for the job.
â€œI do not see any reason why those people should go and they will not go,â€ Mugabe said. This has provoked a head-on confrontation with Tsvangirai who is under pressure to remove Gono and Tomana.
Mugabe also said he would soon meet Finance minister Tendai Biti to discuss, among other things, whether or not to adopt the rand as legal tender, which he is opposed to.
He also said he was opposed to paying civil servants in foreign currency because the country was generating little hard currency and proposed reforms to make the Zimbabwe dollar strong.
Tsvangirai claimed that the rule of law continued to be â€œfloutedâ€ by some sections of the community.
â€œIn particular, a new wave of disruptions of farming operations, in contravention of the Memorandum of Understanding, are undermining our ability to revive our agricultural sector and restore investor confidence,â€ Tsvangirai said.
He said in a meeting last week with Mugabe and Mutambara they agreed that all political detainees who have been formally charged with a crime should be released on bail and those that have not been charged should be released unconditionally.
â€œThis has not yet happened,â€ Tsvangirai said. â€œIndeed, rather than allowing the judicial process to take its course with regard to the granting of bail, the Attorney-Generalâ€™s office is wilfully obstructing the release of all detainees by abusing the appeal process and this must stop forthwith.â€
United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki Moon this week in South Africa urged Mugabe to release detained activists and said such a move would help unlock international humanitarian support.
â€œI support the launch of the unity government, but it will be appropriate for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to heal the nation and release the detained activists.â€
â€œI hope that he would listen to the expectations of the international community by releasing them all as soon as possible.â€
BY WONGAI ZHANGAZHA