The directive was made through a circular dated January 25 by the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda.
Mutambara yesterday confirmed the withdrawal of the directive.
“The directive from Sibanda was discussed by the three principals and there was debate on how it was issued and it was later withdrawn after there was consensus that it was issued un-procedurally,” Mutambara told the Zimbabwe Independent. “The decision (to withdraw the circular) was not an individual one but a government decision. The directive has been thrown out of the window.”
Tsvangirai and Mutambara told Mugabe during the Friday meeting that the circular was unprocedural and was against the global political agreement (GPA), which is captured in the constitution and stipulates that ministers should report to the premier.
Sibanda’s circular directed ministers to report to Mujuru and Nkomo who would assist the president in their “supervision and management”.
The MDC-T interpreted the directive as undermining Tsvangirai’s authority and position in government.
Under Article 20 of the GPA as enshrined in Constitutional Amendment No 19, the premier “shall oversee the formulation of government policies by the cabinet” and “shall ensure that the policies so formulated are implemented by the entirety of government”.
The MDC-T rejected the circular as “null and void”.
The withdrawal of the directive lessens the burden of items still under dispute in the GPA.
Sibanda’s circular read in part: “I am directed to inform you that in the inclusive government, Honourable Vice Presidents will continue to assist His Excellency the President in the general supervision and management of the administration of government business just as the Honourable Prime Minister is assisted by deputy prime ministers.”
The circular compelled permanent secretaries in government ministries to report to the two vice presidents. Permanent secretaries are the chief executives of government ministries and have tremendous influence in shaping government policies and executing policy issues in the ministries that they control.
The directive from Sibanda’s circular had indicated that Vice-President Mujuru would supervise all social and agricultural ministries, in addition to overseeing the implementation of programmes to enhance productivity in the agricultural sector, and implementation of the indigenisation and empowerment programmes, including women’s empowerment in gender equity programmes.
The circular further indicated that Mujuru would also supervise Zimbabwe’s strategic public utilities and continue to chair the cabinet committees on honours and awards, state occasions and national monuments, and parastatals.
Nkomo, according to Sibanda’s circular, was to take charge of ministries dealing with the economy, finance, mines, industry, energy, international cooperation, tourism and natural resources management.
Sibanda’s letter had stirred a hornet’s nest as the premier’s office immediately rejected it as an attempt to strip Tsvangirai of his powers.
Tsvangirai’s secretary Ian Makone wrote a memorandum to Sibanda accusing him of attempting to usurp Tsvangirai’s powers.