Tsvangirai gives up on Bennett

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Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has given up on Roy Bennett and has replaced him with Nketa MP Seiso Moyo as Deputy Minister of Agriculture.

Tsvangirai nominated Bennett as Deputy Agriculture minister in 2009, but President Robert Mugabe refused to swear him into office, before going on to make unilateral appointments of Gideon Gono as Reserve Bank Governor and Johannes Tomana as Attorney-General as well as governors for the country’s 10 provinces.

Moyo, who has been the MDC-T governor-designate for Bulawayo, was sworn into office by President Mugabe yesterday together with veteran trade unionist Lucia Matibenga, now the Minister of Public Service. The Public Service portfolio fell vacant following the death of Professor Eliphas Mukonoweshuro two months ago.

Matibenga was the governor-designate for Masvingo, but has not set foot in office after President Mugabe refused to swear-in governors from the MDC formations despite an agreement to share the posts using a 5-4-1 ratio, with MDC-T having five governors, Zanu PF four and MDC one.

Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, said the Prime Minister had resolved to appoint Moyo to fill the vacant post.

“The dictates of the situation is that Honourable Bennett is not in the country, and the other side wanted to arrest him as soon as he set foot in the country. The practical situation is that we are merely occupying our space,” said Tamborinyoka.

He said the unilateral appointment of Gono and Tomana remained an outstanding issue, adding Tsvangirai had not given up on the governors’ posts but was waiting for the court verdict before deciding on what course of action to take.

Tsvangirai petitioned the High Court to nullify the appointment of the governors in November last year, arguing the appointments were unconstitutional.

“It is my respectful contention that the purported appointments of provincial governors by the first respondent (President Mugabe) on the 4th of October 2010 or otherwise are void ab initio (from the start) and/or that the appointments are liable to be set aside,” Tsvangirai said in his High Court application.

“I approach this Honourable Court for a declaration that the purported re-appointments are ultra vires (outside President Mugabe’s powers in) the Constitution and, therefore, void or otherwise liable to be set aside and for related relief as set out in the draft order.”
The High Court is yet to make a determination on the case.

Matibenga said she would do her best to ensure that the civil service audit was completed while also addressing the civil servants’ salaries. Moyo said his immediate task was to make sure inputs were made available to farmers.