By Lance Guma
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has demoted his Chief of Staff Ian Makone, head of protocol James Maridadi and Lazarus Muriritirwa (Principal Director for Policy Implementation) in what Nehanda Radio has been told “is a clear-out of people who interfered excessively in Tsvangirai’s private life.”
Contrary to reports elsewhere Makone has not been fired and will remain in the Prime Minister’s office. Although Maridadi has been sacked from his role in the PM’s office, Nehanda Radio can reveal that he is most likely going to be fielded as the MDC-T parliamentary candidate for Mabvuku where he grew up.
Makone, a long-time confidant of Tsvangirai, is rumoured to be paying the price for allegations that he and wife Theresa Makone (co-Home Affairs Minister) were secretly paying the legal bills incurred by Locardia Karimatsenga, who fought hard in court in a futile attempt to stop Tsvangirai’s marriage to Elizabeth Macheka last month.
That betrayal has convinced Tsvangirai that Makone cannot be trusted.
Ironically Makone will now focus on trying to win the Goromonzi West parliamentary seat he narrowly lost in March 2008 to Locardia Karimatsenga’s sister Beatrice Nyamupinga (Zanu PF) who polled 6193 to Makone’s 5931 votes.
Tsvangirai’s spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka has so far been quoted saying:
“The PM reserves the right to reorganise his office staff, restructure cabinet deployments and as MDC leader can re-order party deployments. If what you are saying is true, then that means there will be a formal statement soon. That’s all we are saying for now.”
Asked to comment Makone said “If there are any changes, there will be a formal announcement. That is the formal procedure.” Muriritirwa allegedly being shafted because of his role in setting up Tsvangirai with a South African woman could only say “I cannot comment on that. Ask Luke (Tamborinyoka).”
But later on facebook in the evening Muriritirwa wrote:
“Hahahaha I’m really surprised to read and watch the news on ZTV and on NewZimbabwe.com that I have been fired from the Prime Minister’s Office. Nothing can be further from the truth. Keep on dreaming! For the record tomorrow it will be business as usual in my office.”
The re-organisation sees Tsvangirai’s long-time adviser Gandhi Mudzingwa moving into the party’s Harvest House headquarters. Several other high profile appointments are set to be made in the coming weeks. “It was felt the current team lacked a cutting edge and changes had to be made,” another source said.
“The Prime Minister and President of the party is re-organising the troops ahead of elections. His office has been criticised for lacking a cutting edge and we are going to be making appointments that give us that cutting edge. Makone will be given a less challenging role along with the others who have been moved on.”
Asked what mainly prompted the reshuffle our highly placed source told us:
“There was already consensus the PM’s office lacked energy and drive to implement fundamental reforms in government. All these other issues which came up later were the proverbial last straws that broke the camel’s back.”
Political commentator Pedzisai Ruhanya told Nehanda Radio:
“Tsvangirai is now opening up to the realities surrounding the incompetence of his staff. This realisation is critical in that it gives him an opportunity to appoint robust, competent and intelligent advisors ahead of watershed elections. He has done the right thing in removing dead wood and that should be celebrated.”
Last year Ruhanya laid into Theresa Makone accusing her of being the key figure in the saga surrounding Locardia Karimatsenga and her aborted ‘marriage’ to the Prime Minister.
“Tsvangirai does not go out looking for girlfriends, but he has personal friends who play matchmakers and at the heart of this free dating service is personal interest, namely controlling Tsvangirai.
“Makone should move out of the private activities of the Prime Minister and focus on her job as a public servant. This woman is a source of instability in the MDC-T,” Ruhanya said at the time.
A furious Makone threatened to sue Ruhanya as she angrily denied accusations that she was meddling in Tsvangirai’s private life.
“I don’t know what Pedzisai Ruhanya’s problem with me is. I don’t know him from a bar of cheese and he seems to particularly enjoy taking a dig at me at every turn,” she fumed.
Explaining her predicament she said “I think it’s a problem of proximity. There is no question I was Susan Tsvangirai’s best friend and that I have paid for this with my political life. People have this natural hatred or jealousy for anyone who happens to be close to a leader, any leader I think, in the world.”
“I have known the PM and his wife for up to 10 years to the time of Mai Tsvangirai’s death and now almost 12 years with the PM. We do not involve each other in our private lives.
“We involve each other to the extent that we want, and there are boundaries in that relationship. The PM has never allowed me to go into that area of his life,” Mrs Makone said. Pressed on allegations that she was related to Tembo and played a key role in introducing her to the PM, Mrs Makone said:
“So what, so what? Whether she is a friend, a relative, an acquaintance, so what? What has that got to do with me if she is to have a relationship with the Prime Minister? She (Tembo) is not a stranger to me.”
A statement issued by Tsvangirai’s spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka on Wednesday read as follows:
“There has been a lot of media speculation on the goings-on in the Prime Minister’s Office. The fact of the matter is that no one has been fired but there have been realignments that will enable the effective discharge of the Prime Minister’s Constitutional duties.
“The realignments are intended to strengthen the Prime Minister’s Constitutional responsibilities in the areas of planning, policy formulation, and supervision of government Ministries, management of the Government Work Programme and implementation of approved legislation.
The Prime Minister reserves his right to periodically reorganise his Office in any manner which can enhance his Constitutional mandate in this inclusive government,” Tamborinyoka said.
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