The sources said Tsvangirai, who failed to attend last week’s Cabinet meeting, had asked Mugabe not to allow Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri to attend the meeting as his term of office expired last month. Mugabe insisted that Chihuri attend the meeting, sources said.
The term of office of Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Commander Constantine Chiwenga, who also sits in NSC meetings, expires at the end of this month.
“How can you discuss issues regarding Chihuri’s term of office in his presence?” said a source. “Those security chiefs are interested parties and should not attend the meeting. in any case his term of office expired.”
The source said a heated discussion ensued between Mugabe and Tsvangirai leading to the cancellation of the meeting.
Minister of Energy and Power Development, Elton Mangoma, confirmed the NSC meeting was cancelled, but refused to give details.
“All I can say is that the meeting did not take place as scheduled,” he said. MDC-T spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora, said the Government of National Unity principals were now scheduled to meet this week to discuss the issue of security chiefs’ terms of office, which is threatening to tear apart the already shaky inclusive government.
Last week, a government work-plot workshop planned for Nyanga was cancelled to enable Tsvangirai to attend the NSC meeting on Friday.
“The workshop, which was scheduled for Thursday and Friday this week, has been moved to the same days next week to allow for an urgent National Security Council meeting on Friday,” read part of the statement from Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Jameson Timba.
Sources said the meeting was potentially explosive as there was mistrust between the service chiefs and Tsvangirai.
Last week, Tsvangirai failed to attend a Cabinet meeting without giving reasons. But sources in the MDC-T said Tsvangirai boycotted the meeting protesting that he had not first met Mugabe, who was on his annual holiday, to brief him on what transpired in government during his absence.
“It was improper for Mugabe, who was away since December, to come back and proceed with business as usual before having a one-on-one with the PM. as you know, he is in-charge of government programmes and policies,” said a source.
“Proceeding with the meeting would have undermined the Prime Minister’s authority.” “The failure by Tsvangirai to attend Cabinet meeting and the cancellation of the national Security Council meeting is an indication that all is not well in the government of national unity,” said another source.
The NSC, which is chaired by Mugabe, is made up of Vice-presidents Joice Mujuru and John Nkomo, Tsvangirai, the two deputy Prime Ministers Thokozani Khupe and Arthur Mutambara, ministers responsible for finance, the defence forces and the police.
Presidential spokesperson, George Charamba, could not be reached for comment.
MDC-T wants Chihuri, Chiwenga out
The MDC-T, which accuses security agents of working in cahoots with Zanu PF to decimate its structures, does not want the terms of office of Chihuri and Chiwenga to be renewed.
The services chiefs have also vowed not to salute a person without liberation war credentials, a statement interpreted to mean they would not salute Tsvangirai even if he won an election.