Zanu PF ministers yesterday snubbed Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s “special” Council of Ministers meeting which was meant to discuss the contentious indigenisation policy that has kept foreign investors at bay.
Tsvangirai chairs the Council of Ministers, a
constitutionally-recognised forum under the Global Political Agreement (GPA), whose role is to assess the implementation of government decisions and enable him to supervise ministers while President Robert Mugabe chairs Cabinet.
Tsvangirai called the “special meeting” with all ministers to deliberate on the indigenisation issue with a view to ending the discord in the inclusive government over a policy viewed as a campaign strategy by the former sole ruling party Zanu PF.
But sources said Zanu PF ministers reportedly mobilised and snubbed the gathering chaired by the Premier in Harare on the basis that Tuesdays were reserved for Cabinet meetings with Mugabe.
The sources said there was no Cabinet meeting yesterday, and Tsvangirai had wanted to take advantage of that by convening the hastily-arranged Council of Ministers meeting.
“Why did Tsvangirai choose to convene his meeting on Tuesday when everybody knows Council of Ministers meetings are on Thursdays?
Wasn’t this planned to become a Cabinet meeting disguised as a Council of Ministers meeting?
“Only President Mugabe can convene Cabinet meetings,” said a Zanu PF minister who refused to be named.
Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere told NewsDay he had failed to attend the meeting because he was attending a funeral.
“I am at a funeral right now, I don’t know whether the meeting went ahead or not,” Kasukuwere said.
Media, Information and Publicity minister Webster Shamu initially professed ignorance of the meeting, but later refused to comment, referring all questions to Tsvangirai’s office.
“What meeting? Why not talk to the Prime Minister? Isn’t it he has a spokesperson?” Shamu asked.
Only MDC-T ministers attended the gathering.
Tsvangirai was left seething with anger over the rebuff which he described as an act of “sabotage” and failure to take government business seriously.
He threatened to raise the matter with Mugabe during the next Monday meeting of the principals in the inclusive government.
Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said: “This is an open snub of government business.
“The Council of Ministers is a forum recognised by the GPA and the Constitution of Zimbabwe. It’s very clear that this open snub is not a mere coincidence, but it shows that partisan approach to government business.
“It was a session to bring coherence on this controversial issue, but unfortunately the Zanu PF ministers boycotted the meeting. It was important to discuss the issue to deal with the serious policy discord as a result of this controversial law which has killed investment and any prospect of job creation in the country.”
Ironically, according to sources it was agreed during last week’s Council of Ministers meeting that the indigenisation issue should be discussed among selected ministers, but Kasukuwere reportedly argued the matter was “cross-cutting” and should involve all ministers.
“It was agreed that since the President is away, the Tuesday Cabinet slot should be used for the special meeting with all the ministers involved since this was a cross-cutting issue and was affecting all ministries,” the source added.