Chaos in GNU


There is increasing chaos in the fragile inclusive government amid reports Zanu PF hardliners and Cabinet ministers continue to snub meetings called by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to discuss government policies.

The latest stand-off was between Tsvangirai and Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo, who the PM is accusing of refusing to turn up for meetings on several occasions to deal with issues bedevilling his ministry as well as differences between the minister and his deputy, Sesel Zvidzai.

Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka yesterday said the PM had summoned Chombo to his office last week but the minister gave excuses. Tsvangirai has been waiting since.

On Wednesday, Chombo said he was unaware of any meeting called by the PM.

“On the meeting (called by the PM) I don’t know anything about that and that the Prime Minister is concerned. He did not say anything about that to me,” Chombo said.

The PM’s Office, however, said the failure by Chombo and other Zanu PF ministers to attend meetings called by Tsvangirai showed the “dysfunctionality” of the inclusive government.

“This is not the first time that ministers have failed to appear after having been summoned by the Prime Minister,” Tamborinyoka said on Wednesday night.

“Each party nominated its own ministers and there is nothing that the PM can do to Zanu PF ministers. If Chombo says he doesn’t know about the meeting, it confirms the dysfunctionality of the unity government which is what the Premier has always been saying.”

Impeccable sources said Zanu PF ministers spent very little time in the office as they were busy on their farms and attending to other business making it difficult for Tsvangirai to assess progress in any of the agreed programmes.

In June 2009, Media, Information and Publicity minister Webster Shamu said he, together with his secretary, George Charamba, were directly appointed by President Robert Mugabe and not by Tsvangirai and as such did not take orders from the latter.

Tsvangirai had written to Shamu on May 29 2009, directing him to revoke Charamba’s statements concerning the accreditation of journalists for the Comesa summit.

But Shamu hit back saying Tsvangirai had no authority to direct him to reverse Charamba’s statement, as the Prime Minister was not the “appointing authority”.

Chombo on Wednesday remained adamant over his tiff with his deputy saying Zvidzai was powerless and decisions in the ministry were “mine and mine alone”.

“I have never fought Zvidzai in public and it must be known that I am the minister. He (Zvidzai) and other officials give me advice, but the decision is mine and mine alone,” Chombo said.

The bickering in the Local Government ministry was stoked by Chombo’s unilateral decision to fire councillors from Harare. Zvidzai resisted the move and sought to nullify the dismissals.

“I fired the councillors for corruption and if one was fired for that, he won’t come back because he was found unfit to be a councillor,” Chombo said.

In response, Zvidzai said Chombo was running the ministry like his “bedroom”.

It was at this point that Tsvangirai summoned Chombo and Zvidzai for a tete-a-tete which only Zvidzai attended.