A FRESH row has erupted over the appointment of provincial governors, with the three principals clashing over letters written to Sadc facilitator, South African President Jacob Zuma, on progress made in the implementation of the global political agreement (GPA).
In a report attached to a letter dated June 10 written by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and signed by President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to Zuma, the three principals agreed that the issue of provincial governors would be dealt with concurrently with that of sanctions.
But Tsvangirai and his party have denied linking the appointment of governors to the lifting of sanctions, while Mutambara and Mugabe were adamant that the principals had reached that decision.
“This matter (appointment of governors) must be addressed simultaneously and concurrently with that of sanctions,” the June 10 letter read.
Under the issue of sanctions, the three leaders “agreed to work towards the removal of sanctions. They endorsed and adopted the plan of the negotiating team on how to remove sanctions.”
In a statement attached to another letter written by Mutambara on August 5, prior to the Sadc summit in Namibia, the principals reiterated that the issue of governors should be dealt with concurrently and simultaneously with the sanctions removal strategy.
“That on the appointment of provincial governors, while agreeing on the appointment formula recommended to us by the GPA negotiators, we have resolved that this matter be addressed simultaneously and concurrently with the sanctions removal strategy,” read the report.
Also accompanying the letter was an implementation matrix for the 24 issues they agreed on. These documents formed the basis for Zuma’s report, which was adopted by the Sadc troika meeting and the summit in Windhoek.
However, Tsvangirai, according to sources, was now trying to wriggle out of the agreement.
The MDC-T has accused Mutambara of falsifying the letter, with its spokesperson Nelson Chamisa saying it was not true that the premier had agreed to resolve the issue of governors when sanctions are removed.
Tsvangirai said last week at a launch of a new party card that there was no link between sanctions and the appointment of governors.
“To then artificially link the allocation of governors to the issue of restrictive measures is a blatant attempt to undermine the GPA, the inclusive government and the will of the people,” he said.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba yesterday threatened to expose Tsvangirai by making public a letter he allegedly signed together with other principals agreeing that the appointment of governors should be done concurrently with the lifting of sanctions.
He told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday that: “We are slowly being pushed to a stage where we will have to embarrass the prime minister. Such lies raise questions of the PM’s integrity and the integrity of his party. He is denying what he endorsed.”
“No one was press-ganged into appending their signatures,” Charamba said. “You can’t rule on the basis of lies. Why are they recanting now? All they are trying to do is push the matter to Mutambara and Zuma.”
He added that Mutambara and Mugabe have always been frustrated by Tsvangirai going back on agreed positions.
“President Mugabe and Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara take a decision with the MDC-T leader and when he goes back and is confronted by hawks in his party, he recants – he needs to take control,” Charamba said.
MDC-M secretary-general Welshman Ncube yesterday said Tsvangirai and his party had several opportunities to object to the paragraph in the statement by the principals and in Zuma’s report, which was read out at the troika meeting, that suggested governors would be appointed simultaneously and concurrently with the sanctions removal strategy.
“People that lie are pathological liars,” Ncube said. “Tsvangirai actually added paragraphs to the statement by the principals. He suggested that they should not just record what was agreed upon, but also what was deadlocked,” Ncube said.
Giving a blow by blow account of events leading up to the letter on August 5, Ncube said the principals met and agreed that Mutambara should write the letter.
Mutambara wrote the cover letter, statement on progress and the implementation matrix, after which he personally met the principals to show them the drafts.
In the initial statement, the deputy prime minister had only included positives, which were the 24 issues they had agreed on and the implementation matrix
Tsvangirai, according to Ncube, then suggested that Mutambara should add three paragraphs related to the three outstanding issues — the appointment of central bank governor Gideon Gono, hiring of Attorney-General Johannes Tomana, as well as the swearing-in of MDC-T treasurer Roy Bennett as Deputy Agriculture minister.
Ncube claimed that Tsvangirai was responsible for inserting a paragraph in the statement outlining that “as the principals to the GPA, we remain committed to working within all the provisions of the GPA and to abide by the country’s laws, in particular those provisions reflected in Constitution Amendment No 19”.
This was meant to force Mugabe to stop making unilateral appointments, like he did when he appointed judges and ambassadors.
“We are dealing with people who are not leaders and who can’t stand by what they have proposed,” said Ncube.
After the additions, the final draft was sent to Mugabe and Tsvangirai before it was given to Zuma’s envoy Mac Maharaj, who was in Zimbabwe at that time, to take to his boss.
Copies of the final version were then sent to the two principals.
Ncube said: “The statement was sent to Zuma and it was part of Zuma’s report. Tsvangirai didn’t want any modification to that report at the troika meeting and it is hypocritical for him to start distancing himself now. He is the one who opposed any amendments to Zuma’s report — he didn’t want any alterations.”
Charamba concurred saying: “At some point at the Troika meeting, Mutambara suggested certain amendments to the report; the person who refused any amendments was Tsvangirai.”
However, a top MDC-T official said there was no agreement on appointing governors concurrently with the removal of sanctions.
The official said when Zuma’s office received the documents, they called Tsvangirai seeking clarification on the paragraph relating to the governors.
“He then wrote to President Zuma and Mugabe saying there was no link between sanctions and the appointment of governors,” he said. “
In the same letter, President Tsvangirai reiterated his position that the issue of governors and the issue of restrictive measures were as separate as day and night.”
However, Charamba said no such letter had been written to Mugabe.
The MDC-T top official accused Mutambara of failing to correctly capture the minutes of the principals’ meeting.
“It’s the way he captured the minutes and the PM didn’t notice that paragraph — he saw the covering letter which Mutambara wrote on behalf of the principals,” he said.
The MDC-T official said Zanu PF misunderstood what the paragraph meant, which was not to say that governors would only be implemented when sanctions are removed.
An MDC-M official said both MDC-T and Zanu PF were spinning and lying about what that paragraph meant.
He said: “Mugabe was refusing to appoint governors and MDC-T, through its behaviour, has been violating the GPA on sanctions. Zanu PF says MDC-T is not sincere and bona fide on the removal of sanctions. Zanu PF wants proof of sincerity and a bona fide status, then Zanu PF can appoint governors.”