PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and permanent secretaries are now officially in charge of government operations until the inauguration of a new administration after the July 31 polls as it emerges that the outgoing coalition government’s Tuesday cabinet meeting was the last scheduled sitting before elections, government sources have said.
Mugabe reportedly told his colleagues that the decision was meant to give ministers time to campaign ahead of the polls.
However, Mugabe can always summon the cabinet on an ad hoc basis if “the need arises,” the source said.
The development points to Mugabe’s insistence on holding elections without reforms demanded by the MDC partners in the inclusive government and Sadc at last month’s regional bloc summit in Maputo, Mozambique.
Mugabe used Tuesday’s cabinet meeting to bid farewell and wish good luck to those contesting in the polls.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Finance minister Tendai Biti skipped the meeting as the MDC-T intensified its electioneering in Matabeleland and Masvingo provinces ahead of this weekend’s official launch of the party’s manifesto.
A source said Chief Secretary to President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda last week informed permanent secretaries that cabinet had officially come to an end.
Sibanda also told the permanent secretaries they need to develop the national economic blue-print that will be debated by the next government.
“We were told that secretaries are now running the ministries and government departments until a new government is elected,” said the source.
The ministers’ mandates were curtailed by the expiry of parliament’s term on June 28 midnight and now simply play a ceremonial role.
Another source added: “Secretaries were clustered into groups to develop the economic blue-print for the country which will be debated and adopted by the incoming government after elections.”
The coalition partners seem resigned to the fact that general elections will be held on July 31 as their members filed nomination papers at the Nomination Court last Friday.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has been rolling out preparations for elections despite a series of political and legal disputes which characterise the electoral process.