PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has grabbed virtually all executive powers from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai after unilaterally appointing provincial governors, endangering the survival of the fragile inclusive government.
Mugabe’s decision to appoint governors on his own without consulting Tsvangirai is one in a series of moves which have been rejected by the premier as a violation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and thus invalid.
According to the GPA, Mugabe is not supposed to make such appointments without consulting Tsvangirai.
However, Mugabe has practically seized all executive powers and used them to make unilateral decisions which have left Tsvangirai looking powerless and weak, while threatening the existence of the shaky coalition.
In terms of the GPA executive power is shared between Mugabe, Tsvangirai and cabinet. Mugabe chairs cabinet and that way has laid claim to the “head of government” title, apart from being head of state. A power struggle has been raging between him and Tsvangirai over this issue, although it seems Mugabe is now resorting to brazen means to consolidate his power and assert his authority.
In yet another action which showed Mugabe was acting in complete disregard of the GPA and riding roughshod over Tsvangirai, Mugabe appointed 10 provincial governors for two-year terms despite that issue remaining as one of the unresolved outstanding issues.
Mugabe’s assault on the GPA, seizure of almost all executive power, and arbitrary appointment of governors yesterday forced Tsvangirai to convene an emergency MDC-T national executive meeting to discuss the critical situation. The meeting rejected Mugabe’s controversial decision and mandated the party to campaign against it.
Tsvangirai yesterday expressed outrage at Mugabe’s decision, especially linking the issue of governors to the lifting of sanctions, describing it as “rank madness and utterly nonsensical”.
Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara were only told by Mugabe on Monday at a meeting to discuss the remaining outstanding issues of the global political agreement about the appointments, which top government sources said the president had made last Friday.
Mugabe also categorically told Tsvangirai and Mutambara that he will never swear-in Deputy Agriculture minister-designate Roy Bennett.
Tsvangirai told journalists yesterday after a six-hour emergency meeting with his national executive that: “To my utter surprise, and shall I say disgust, Mr Mugabe advised me on Monday that he had nichodemously re-appointed the former governors in the same manner in which he appointed the previous governors on a Sunday, when most of us were at church.
“The Prime Minister, who has to consent to their appointments, knew nothing about it. He (Mugabe) confirmed to me and DPM Mutambara on Monday that he has no intention of ever swearing in Roy. The matter of Roy Bennett has now become a personal vendetta and part of a racist agenda.”
Tsvangirai threatened to fight the unilateral appointments by going around the country telling his supporters not to recognise the 10 provincial governors.
The first of such briefings will be provincial executive meetings starting this weekend in Bindura in Mashonaland Central and in Karoi in Mashonaland West.
The three political principals had agreed on a five, four and one formula, where MDC-T was supposed to appoint five governors, Zanu PF four and MDC-M one.
Tsvangirai said his national executive had also resolved not to recognise the appointments made in the last 18 months, which were done “unconstitutionally” without consulting him.
“The MDC’s national executive has today resolved that we must make a stand to protect the Constitution of Zimbabwe and to return it to the custodianship of the citizens of Zimbabwe,” he said.
“We now similarly call on the people of Zimbabwe, at whose pleasure we serve, not to recognise these individuals as the legitimate holders of the posts to which they have been unconstitutionally and illegally appointed. In doing so you must all remain peaceful.”
Tsvangirai said his party no longer recognised the appointments of the Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, Attorney-General Johannes Tomana, five judges appointed on May 20 2010, the six ambassadors appointed on July 24 and Police Service Commission announced in March this year.
He said he would advise the countries to whom the ambassadors were posted that the appointments were illegal and therefore null and void.
Tsvangirai also said he would advise the Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku on the illegal appointment of the judges and the president of the senate, Edna Madzongwe not to consider the governors as members of the senate.
He plans to tell co-Home Affairs ministers and the National Security Council that the appointment of the Police Service Commission was illegal.
The MDC leader said Sadc should urgently intervene to restore constitutionality in Zmbabwe. He invited Sadc to deploy observers before the constitutional referendum to help protect the rights of Zimbabweans to express their views freely and without violence or intimidation.
“I don’t want to understate the nature or extent of the current crisis. It is nothing short of a constitutional crisis, which is why I have urged Sadc (Southern African Development Community) to intervene as a matter of urgency,” Tsvangirai said.
However, analysts say his chances of pulling off a victory are almost zero because all the institutions Tsvangirai is telling not to recognise Mugabe’s appointments were controlled by Zanu PF.
The premier attacked Mugabe for trying to link many issues, including the appointment of governors, to the lifting of sanctions.
“This is rank madness and utterly nonsensical,” he said. “It is tantamount to surrendering the sovereignty of this country. All Zimbabweans know that Mr Mugabe and his colleagues brought the restrictive measures on themselves through the flagrant abuse of human rights and economic disaster which they inflicted on this country,” he said.
“All Zimbabweans know that these restrictive measures are the result, not the cause, of that economic disaster. They know that these restrictive measures affect the individuals concerned, not the country as a whole, as the economic turnaround since my party joined the government has shown.”
Sources in the MDC-T national executive meeting told the Zimbabwe Independent that the meeting was heated with some members saying they should withdraw from the shaky unity government because Mugabe was taking them for a ride.
However, Tsvangirai told journalists yesterday that they had no intention of pulling out of the government, but would remain committed to ensure that future elections are free and fair and that Zimbabwe writes a new pluralistic constitution.
“If their intention is to push us out, we don’t have any intention of pulling out – we will not grant them that wish. The MDC utterly rejects any suggestion that power is an entitlement through historical legacy or that power is a God-given right of an individual or individuals.” he said. “I was prepared to work with Mr Mugabe to allow him to address the mistakes of the past and to help him to rebuild his legacy.”
However, Tsvangirai added: “The events of the past few months have left me sorely disappointed in Mr Mugabe and in his betrayal of the confidence that I and many Zimbabweans have personally invested in him.”