In a move likely to cause fresh fissures in the wobbly inclusive government, President Robert Mugabe has snubbed Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai by making key government appointments without consulting his coalition government partner.
The Global Political Agreement (GPA), signed between Mugabe (on behalf of Zanu PF), Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara (for the MDCs) in September 2008, stipulates that Mugabe should consult his partners when
making key government appointments.
But last Thursday, Mugabe unilaterally appointed Justice Anne-Mary Gowora and Justice Yunus Omerjee to the Supreme Court bench while Advocate Happias Zhou joined the High Court.
This has raised tempers and highlights what observers have described as Mugabe’s intransigence and how he continues to undermine the power-sharing agreement.
Deputy Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs Obert Gutu also said he was not consulted on the key judiciary appointments, neither was he invited to the swearing-in ceremony of the judges at State House.
“We were hearing from the grapevine within the legal fraternity since last week of the appointment of the three judges. But I was not informed or consulted as the Deputy Minister of Justice and a senior legal practitioner in the fraternity. The invitation was never extended to my office as should have happened,” Gutu said.
Tsvangirai was not present at the occasion, which was attended by Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa, High Court and Supreme Court judges and senior members from the legal fraternity.
MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said the party was unhappy that Mugabe had snubbed Tsvangirai over the appointments.
“Although the GPA is clear on what mus
t happen before key appointments, President Mugabe has reneged from that GPA position and has resorted to making unilateral appointments as our (party) president was not consulted,” Mwonzora said.
According to the State media: “The appointments were done following consultation with the Judicial Service Commission as prescribed by the law.
The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (Mugabe) made the appointments in terms of Section 84 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba yesterday admitted Tsvangirai was not consulted, but said Mugabe was exercising his constitutional powers by appointing service chiefs.
“Yes, it’s not in the spirit of GPA, but it’s in the spirit of the law. That’s all what matters,” Charamba said.
In February this year, Mugabe unilaterally extended the terms of office of Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and four other service chiefs — Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwenga, Lieutenant General Philip Valerio Sibanda (Zimbabwe National Army), Air Marshal Perence Shiri (Air Force of Zimbabwe) and Retired Major General Paradzai Zimondi (Commissioner of Prisons) — without consulting the Premier.
The appointments came at a time the MDC-T is angry over reports that Zanu PF had roped in service chiefs as its political commissars to contain factionalism as rifts from the recently-held district co-ordinating committee elections continue to haunt the party.
Sources said last Sunday at Marymount Teachers’ College, service chiefs from Mutare attended the party provincial co-ordinating committee meeting where they were tasked to spearhead the Zanu PF election campaign.
But Zanu PF Manicaland provincial chairperson Mike Madiro said: “I cannot comment on matters we discussed in that meeting because it was a closed one. I don’t know what has happened to those indisciplined comrades who chose to divulge what we discussed. I chaired the meeting and declared that it was a closed one, therefore I cannot go against my word.”
Service chiefs reported to have been assigned Zanu PF duties include Police Deputy Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga, Major General Martin Chedondo, Air Vice-Marshal Shebba Brighton Shumbayaonda, Brigadier-General Herbert Chingono, Brigadier-General Mike Sango and 3 Brigade Commander Brigadier-General Herbert Bandama.
MDC-T secretary for defence, intelligence and security Giles Mutsekwa said it was regrettable that Zanu PF had chosen to abuse service chiefs.
“As the MDC, we are so worried about the developments that military and police officers are being deployed as political commissars of Zanu PF,” said Mutsekwa, himself a former army officer.
“The development that serving service chiefs have been tasked to resuscitate the waning popularity of the former ruling party makes sad reading for the MDC and Zimbabwe in general. In our view, what the security forces should concentrate on at the moment is to demonstrate to all Zimbabweans that they are bound by the supreme law of the Republic of Zimbabwe.
“Our experience has shown that wherever the military involve themselves in party political campaigns, there has been massive violence as we witnessed in 2008.We hope that Jomic (Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee) is following these developments and that they are taking necessary steps to curb genocide.”
Involvement of service chiefs in active party politics has remained one of the issues hanging over the coalition government.