GNU Discord as Party Positions get Precedence

THE failure by the inclusive government to speak with one voice does not engender confidence and reveals deep confusion in the administration on how to move the nation forward, analysts have said.


They said contradictory statements from senior government officials on issues of law, property rights, human rights and freedom of expression in the past week reflect a lack of oneness and cohesion; and also suggest that party positions were taking precedence over national matters.

This, the analysts warned, would militate against reforms government intends to embark on to attract and retain capital as envisaged in both the Short Term Emergency Recovery Plan and the 100-day plan.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last Thursday announced that both foreign and local journalists and media organisations did not need accreditation to carry out their duties because the Media and Information Commission had ceased to exist after an amendment of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act became law in January 2008. The amendment replaced the MIC with the Zimbabwe Media Commission, which is yet to be constituted.

Two days after Tsvangirai’s pronouncement, the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity said journalists and media houses intending to cover the 12-day Comesa summit, which started in Victoria Falls yesterday, should be accredited by the MIC.

Another contradiction arose last week after Tsvangirai told the media that the principals to the GPA had resolved all but two of the outstanding issues of the unity government pact.

The prime minister said he had met with Mugabe and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and agreed on the appointment of provincial governors, ambassadors and permanent secretaries.

The re-appointment of central bank governor Gideon Gono and the hiring of Johannes Tomana as Attorney-General, according to Tsvangirai, remained the sticking points and the matter was referred to Sadc as the guarantors of the GPA.

The MDC-T, he said, would fill five of the 10 gubernatorial posts, Zanu PF four and MDC-M one.

Tsvangirai announced the line up of new governors appointed by the MDC. James Makore was appointed to replace Harare metropolitan governor David Karimanzira of Zanu PF, while Seiso Moyo will replace Bulawayo governor Cain Mathema.

The MDC-T national council member and former Women’s Assembly chairperson, Lucia Matibenga, is now the governor of Masvingo, taking over from Titus Maluleke.

Hwange East legislator Tose Sansole will replace Zanu PF’s Thokozile Mathuthu as Matabeleland North governor while Julius Magaramombe, the MDC-T’s losing candidate for Buhera North in the March 2008 elections, will replace Christopher Mushowe in Manicaland.

Zanu PF, Tsvangirai said, would retain governors in the three Mashonaland provinces as well as in the Midlands, while the MDC-M would take control of Matabeleland South.

Incumbent permanent secretaries were retained and the MDC-T would appoint four ambassadors and MDC one when those posts next became vacant.

Tsvangirai’s announcement was contradicted by the Media, Information and Publicity ministry permanent secretary George Charamba at the weekend who said while there was a tentative agreement between the principals, Mugabe would have to table it before Zanu PF’s politburo for adoption or rejection.

Charamba revealed that the issue of provincial governors would be dealt with in August after the incumbents finish a year in office and a plan for compensation is put in place since they were hired in August 2008 for a two-year-term.

Political analysts said apart from these examples, the inclusive government has since its formation on February 13 failed to speak with one voice on important issues affecting the country — negatively impacting on government’s major task to raise funds from the international community to stabilise and revive the comatose economy.

The analysts said the confusion and contradictions coming out of government reflected the power-relations between Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara.

They said some of Mugabe’s ministers and service chiefs’ insistence this week that Gono would remain head of the central bank despite the MDC formations’ call for his removal was a demonstration by Zanu PF that it has the whip hand in government.

University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer John Makumbe said there was limited coordination in the inclusive government and that senior government leaders were issuing statements based on party preferences.

“The inclusive government is not working as a team, and the unfortunate part is that the conflicting statements are sent in the public domain before they are synthesised in cabinet,” Makumbe said. “The bottom line is that Mugabe is not in charge. He is failing to run a coordinated and unified cabinet. He is failing to give an internally consistent direction for cabinet yet this should be the time to demonstrate that the inclusive government is coordinated.”

He said that at the rate at which the confusion and discord was playing out, the country would end up with a situation where there would be a dearth of collective responsibility.

“We might end up having two parallel governments and ultimately resulting in mismanagement,” Makumbe warned.

Zimbabwean-born South African businessman Mutumwa Mawere was of the opinion that the discord would result in the country failing to reengage the international community for financial aid to revive the flagging economy.

“The three-in-one style of government does not engender confidence,” Mawere said. “The government has to act and speak with one voice.”

He said what was worrying was that the worldview of key Western countries was different from the Zimbabwean view on the rule of law, property rights, human rights and freedom of expression.

Political scientist Michael Mhike said the discord in government seems to be deliberate.

He said government leaders aligned to Zanu PF and known to oppose the unity administration were at the forefront of issuing statements contrary to those from Tsvangirai’s office and his ministers.

“Power is at play here,” Mhike said. “So far Mugabe and his cronies have proved that they are still in charge of government. The stance to retain Gono in office against all odds demonstrates where the power is.”
Tsvangirai has of late been complaining that there were “residual elements” in the previous government working to undermine the inclusive administration.

He warned that this would be catastrophic to the government and the revival of the economy.

BY CONSTANTINE CHIMAKURE

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