Comment: MDC mere junior partners in GNU

IT has always been a source of concern to us that the losers of the elections two years ago continue to hold sway in the way this country is governed.

There is now every reason for those championing the democratic cause to be even more anxious. Zanu PF, which was unambiguously rejected at the polls in 2008, is firmly in charge while the MDC-T, which clearly garnered more votes than President Mugabe’s threadbare party, is slowly losing clout.
There was so much promise last year with the formation of the unity government that the MDC would become the agent of change in this country by influencing forward-looking policies through parliament and in Cabinet. The Council of ministers, which PM Morgan Tsvangirai heads, was touted as the platform to “monitor and evaluate the performance of ministries, against the critical path targets identified in the government work programme”.
Revelations this week of the goings on in government point to a serious erosion of Tsvangirai’s influence in the GNU. Reports said an attempt by the PM to summon permanent secretaries to a Council of Ministers meeting was blocked by Patrick Chinamasa on the grounds that it was in breach of the constitution. The meeting had been called to, among other issues, discuss the Government Work Programme for 2010. Chinamasa has said the workflow document has not been approved by Cabinet as Tsvangirai claimed and that the paper had been drafted in the PM’s office and distributed without Cabinet approval.
Zanu PF’s angst with the document is clear. The issue of procedure being flouted is just a smokescreen. The contents of the programme, especially the proposed legislative agenda, are the issue here. There are plans to amend the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act with a view to removing sections which criminalise defamation and to repeal the egregious Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Progressive forces in Zimbabwe have oft said the two pieces of legislation are an affront to the opening up democratic space in the country. But to Zanu PF, this is akin to taking away candy from the mouth of a child. Chinamasa’s reasons are a mere dissembling ruse to protect Zanu PF’s weapons of choice in subjugating fundamental freedoms.
Tsvangirai does not appear to have an answer to this subterfuge. His Council of Ministers platform is now resting on sinking pillars which are constantly being eroded by Zanu PF’s projects of sabotage.
That is not all; there have been reports lately that a draft ICT Bill from the office of ICT minister Nelson Chamisa had been rejected. In essence the minister is trying to sponsor a bill that would give him back his job after his portfolio was hived off to Zanu PF ministers Webster Shamu and Nicholas Goche. In essence, Chamisa is now a minister without portfolio.
Chamisa’s colleague at the Ministry of Economic Planning Elton Mangoma is also battling to have his economic blueprint accepted. Zanu PF deems it unacceptable.
There is more evidence of the growing powerlessness of MDC-T ministers. Co-Home Affairs minister Giles Mutsekwa reportedly failed to save a photo exhibition from being disrupted by security agency in Mutare. The minister who is responsible for the police was brushed aside by the spooks who had their orders from elsewhere in the recesses of the inclusive government. The exhibition eventually escaped Mutare only to be seized in Masvingo.
State Enterprises minister Gabuza Gabbuza also features on this roll-call of limp-wristed MDC-T ministers. A recent article in the state media revealed that the minister was having problems getting to know how much heads of our wretched parastatals actually earn. Poor Gabuzza believes the heads of the loss-making quangos are earning as much as US$10 000 monthly. The problem is that they are either not owning up or are giving him wrong information. The parastatal heads evidently have no respect for the minister. If Gabbuza, who has been in office for over a year, does not still know parastatals’ salary structures, what does he know? In fact what is his day job?
The same can be said of a number of MDC-T ministers including Theresa Makone (Public Works) and Elphus Mukonoweshuro (Public Service).
There is no doubting at the moment where political power rests. It has been clawed back by the loser and he is running away with it towards the precipice. The ineffectualness of the MDC in the inclusive government has allowed Zanu PF to dream up ruinous policies, the most apparent being the contentious indigenisation regulations. It is unfortunate that the MDC has now been reduced to reacting to Zanu PF’s bonehead plans. Here the reform agenda has been subjugated by their diversionary and damaging projects.
Parties in the inclusive government can no longer pretend to be working as one. The country is slowly becoming despondent again and this is dangerous. At the moment there is no sign of reform; just a cosmetic papering over the cracks by a warped system of government aimed solely at securing external assistance.

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