Tsvangirai recently complained to President Robert Mugabe that his ministers were undermining his powers as mandated by the Global Political Agreement (GPA) by boycotting the council of ministers’ meetings he chairs.
The MDC-T says the intransigent ministers, who allegedly report directly to Mugabe’s inner circle, have created a parallel government structure and another “ministry of finance” to weaken the GNU, which brought about the current relative economic and political stability.
MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora blames Zanu PF hardliners, senior police and army officials, whom he accused of ordering ministers and civil servants to boycott Tsvangirai meetings in their bid to wreck the coalition government. Several senior army and police officers have openly declared their allegiance to Zanu PF.
“They are trying to undermine the Prime Minister as a way of collapsing the inclusive government,” said Mwonzora. “Some of them are just ambitious individuals, who want to ultimately takeover Zanu PF leadership. harassing Tsvangirai is a display of their political strength.”
Mwonzora said the boycott affects the implementation of government programmes, which effectively impact negatively on the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans.
“For example, the PM was recently on a tour, with a view of raising funds for programmes such as health projects but in some cases, he was not able to access them because officials were absent,” said Mwonzora.
Even senior civil servants such as district administrators, he said, were deliberately absenting themselves from work whenever he visited provinces to supervise projects, throwing the administrative operations of the Government of National Unity (GNU) into disarray.
A former permanent secretary in Mugabe’s administration in the 1980s, Ibbo Mandaza, said if the reports were true, it was unfortunate that Zanu PF was running parallel structures.
Mandaza, a renowned academic, said the parallel structures were detrimental to national development. “It definitely has a negative effect, if it is true,” said Mandaza.
“I would not want to call it a parallel but irregular structure. If public funds are not channelled through the normal channel, then such transactions are irregular.”
It would be difficult, if not impossible, to track such funds for accountability purposes, he said. Another political analyst, Char-les Mangongera said boycotts and creation of parallel structures showed that the unity government had reached an administrative logjam.
He said the problem was worsened by the fact that most senior posts in governments were occupied by Zanu PF activists who masquerade as civil servants.
“If the Prime Minister is not able to follow up on projects and programmes, it means there is no ad ministrative role for the GNU,” said Mangongera.”
Senior civil servants who spoke to The Standard said they could not openly welcome Tsvangirai because they feared victimisation following the expulsion of Zanu PF MP for Marondera East Constituency, Tracey Mutinhiri, on allegations of engaging in activities contrary to the former ruling party’s constitution.
“You will be labelled an enemy of the party once you are seen welcoming Tsvangirai in your province or travel around with him,” said one senior civil servant in Manicaland province. “So most people absent themselves, not because they want, but due to fear of victimisation.”
Evidence of a parallel government emerged a few months ago, when civil servants were given a salary increment without the knowledge of the Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti.
There was friction between Biti and Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu over the remittance of money realised from the sale of diamonds.
Biti said there was no nexus between income from diamonds, output and international prices and he called for an audit trail of revenue from gems. But Mpofu last week dismissed claims, saying everything was done above board.
‘Tsvangirai lacks disciplinary powers’
Charles Mangongera said it was unfortunate that Tsvangirai had no powers to discipline the intransigent ministers. The GPA gives Tsvangirai mandate to “ensure all the ministers develop appropriate implementation plans to give effect to the policies decided by Cabinet.
In this regard, ministers will report to the Prime Minister on all issues relating to the implementation of such policies and plans.” “He was just given responsibility without power. The administrative system is not able to function because of political bickering,” said Mangongera.