HARARE- Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Friday briefed journalists on the state of the coalition government and accused President Robert Mugabe of being insincere and hampering progress. He says the Zanu PF leader is obsessed with what he believes are his own powers to the detriment of the government.
By Morgan Tsvangirai
Good morning members of the press and welcome to the Prime Minister’s monthly press day. I have said before that my office believes that Government is not a secretive cult movement.
We started these briefings last year and every month, I will be briefing you on the political, economic and social developments in the country so that citizens are informed of what we are doing or not doing as an inclusive government.
I also know that your fraternity kicked off the year on a sorrowful note. You lost your dear colleagues Makuwerere Bwititi, Freedom Moyo and Bornwell Chakaodza. May their departed souls rest in eternal peace.
The Inclusive Government
It has also been a sorrowful experience in government.
Last week the inclusive government celebrated its third birthday and it continues to lurch along, albeit with the insincerity, mistrust and the lack of a common understanding that has pervaded this marriage since its consummation in February 2009.
The script has not changed.
This government is a painful sorry of frustrations due to mixed messages from what is supposed to be the same team, non-implementation of key reforms necessary for a credible poll, violence, arbitrary arrests, lack of fiscal space, a liquidity crisis and our shameful failure to pay our civil servants a decent wage.
We have failed in many respects as a government mainly because ours is a difficult coalition where there is no shared vision and no shared values. What is only commendable is that despite the strange nature of our coalition, we have managed to stop the bleeding and to give Zimbabweans every reason to hope again.
We have given the economy some respite. But I am now convinced that despite our modest achievements, it would be fortuitous for Zimbabweans to expect massive economic growth and job creation due to the tensions and the discord in this government.
Government Work Programme
The government has adopted the Government Work programme as the vehicle through which to deliver services to the people. Early this month, my office hosted the Government Work Programme workshop at which the Council of Ministers adopted the critical path targets for 2012.
Going forward, we are hoping that the economy should generate the necessary revenue to enable us to deliver on our critical path targets for this year.
I have made it clear to the Ministers that this year; I will be reporting to Parliament the performance of Ministers in relation to implementation of the GWP. This is in line with our vision of making Government accountable to the people through their elected representatives.
The main challenge in meeting these targets is the limited fiscal space. We are in a squeeze and I also understand the challenge of meeting government commitments with a hard working government work-force whose income is not enough to cater for basic needs.
We cannot deliver on our promises as government as long as we have not addressed the concerns of the civil servants. I was in Chiadzwa last week and it is clear that improved transparency and remittance of all revenue to Treasury must give us some space to address these genuine concerns.
We have tried to link the GWP to the budget so that all our critical path targets are funded but you will also be aware that the budget itself was crafted with assumed funding from the proceeds of diamond sales, the remittance of which has been erratic so far.
The Chiadzwa visit
Because our budget is largely dependent on assumed revenue from the sale of diamonds and having come from a meeting with representatives of civil servants, I visited Chiadzwa on Thursday and Friday last week.
I saw massive equipment tearing apart the belly of the earth. But a simple tour is only half the story. Even after the visit, I still feel that with more transparency and plugging of leakages, we can be able to finance the budget and to respond to critical issues such as the issue of civil servants’ salaries.
I visited both the mining sites and the displaced villagers at the Arda Transau Estate. I was especially touched by the plight of the villagers. There is no direct benefit to the people whose lives were disrupted and on whose traditional land this treasure is being mined.
I visited the displaced families at Arda Transau and I appreciate the decent houses the mining companies have built for them.
But life is not simply about a decent house. It is about sustaining your livelihood through personal enterprise and the resettled families still have genuine concerns about their land being inadequate for agriculture, among many other concerns.
Those diamonds will mean nothing to the country if they fail to transform people’s lives, starting with the Marange community itself and so far, it appears diamond proceeds can still do more for this country and for the Marange people if there is more transparency in the disposal of this resource.
The hypocrisy of government on indigenisation is more than exposed in Chiadzwa.
If we are genuine about community share-ownership schemes, why have we not accorded the same shares to the communities in Marange so that these people benefit from the resources around them? The companies mining there, including those owned by the government, have not done that which we are forcing companies to do.
The Zimbabwean constitution promotes freedom of the media and expression; however this is hampered by interference and the implementation of strict media laws.
In its 2008 report, Reporters Without Borders ranked the Zimbabwean media in the Press Freedom Index as number 151 out of 173. In December, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on the Zimbabwe government to reform the media sector.
The situation remains dire, with the responsible Ministry refusing to implement agreed reforms in this critical sector.
At our Principals’ meeting on Monday, we restated our position and gave the Minister three weeks to comply with our directive to reconstitute the BAZ board, the ZBC board and the Mass Media Trust. We expect that to happen. Cabinet agreed to it, the Principals agreed and we expect the Minister to implement this position.
The discord in government has been amplified by the lack of sincerity by President Mugabe and his party. The President has gone to re-appoint the Police Commissioner-General in spite of the Constitutional provision that the two of us must agree on such appointments.
Secondly, the Police Services Commission, which must make a recommendation to the President, is yet to be regularised and it is clear that the so-called re-appointment was un-Constitutional and against our agreement as Principals at our meeting of 6 February 2012.
For the record, I met the two Co-Ministers of Home Affairs and the permanent secretary on Friday, 10 February 2012 and they made it clear to me that the Police Services Commission is not regularised and that it is that body that makes a recommendation to the President. Schedule 8 to the Constitution sets out the framework for this current Inclusive Government. It states the following;
For the avoidance of doubt, the following provisions of the Interparty Political Agreement, being Article XX thereof, shall, during the subsistence of the Interparty Political Agreement, prevail notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Constitution-…
We should all be guided by the provisions of Schedule 8 to the Constitution in the execution of government business during the subsistence of the Inclusive Government.
Schedule 8 to the Constitution clearly states that the President and I share the executive powers of governing. In terms of Article 20.1.3 (p), the President makes all key appointments in consultation with the Prime Minister.
Section 115 [i] of the Constitution is clear on what the phrase ‘in consultation with’ means. It states that in consultation means that the person required to consult before arriving at a decision, arrives at the decision after securing the agreement of the person so-consulted.
The appointment of the Commissioner General of Police is undoubtedly a key appointment. The consent of the Prime Minister is required before the appointment of a Commissioner-General.
The three of us agreed at our meeting on 6 February agreed that once the Police Services Commission was properly constituted, the process of appointing the next Commissioner General would commence.
Pursuant to our agreement that l have referred to, l summoned the Co-Ministers of Home Affairs and instructed them to commence the process of selecting suitable candidates for appointment into the Police Service Commission. The Co-Ministers assured me that they had already commenced the process.
The President’s re-appointment of Augustine Chihuri is therefore contrary to the unambiguous dictates of the Constitution. The Police Service Commission which according to the Police Act, must be consulted in the process of the appointment of the Commissioner General has not been re-constituted.
In addition, the President did not consult me as is required by the law. Augustine Chihuri is therefore, not a legitimate Commissioner General of the Police.
At that same meeting it was agreed that Mr Chihuri is serving in an acting capacity to ensure that there is no vacuum created before the appointment of a substantive Commissioner General. I still insist that we stand by that agreement so that we do not create unnecessary hiccups in the Inclusive Government.
So it is clear that not only is the re-appointment unconstitutional and unprocedural, but it also betrays lack of sincerity on the part of President Mugabe. We cannot have a President who takes a position with fellow Principals and acts outside that position and the Constitution that he swore to uphold.
I have made it clear to the President that he is in breach of the Constitution and that I and the party I lead will not recognise Chihuri’s appointment as legitimate. He is a party appointee. This is nothing personal, but it has everything to do with abiding by the laws of the land.
Let me put it this way. We have a President who indicates left and turns right. He has undermined our collective position and agreement as Principals while he directs his functionaries to execute directives that are at variance with our common position. The question is, Can the real Mugabe stand up?
We have continued to adopt positions and to make decisions as the leadership of the country, but thereafter the President goes on to execute his personal and partisan position which is at variance with our binding agreements as Principals.
The President has continued to live in the past, forgetting that this is shared responsibility. He has continued to talk of his own personal powers, either to appoint or to call for elections, despite the fact that Amendment 19 is clear that we share executive authority and that he and I must agree.
I am not in this position by accident. I won an election and I defeated the President in that poll. I have a Constitutional responsibility to execute and Zimbabwe is better served if as leaders we stick, respect and adhere to the Constitution.
The date of the next election remains process-driven. As Principals, we are now seized with the Constitution-making process and we have asked the COPAC management committee to furnish us with a trajectory of how they expect the process to pan out so that we can begin to have an idea of when we can hold the next election.
I am very clear on the process, that apart from the Constitution, we have to institute the key reforms that we have agreed. These include among others media reforms, the ZEC secretariat, a new voters’ roll, non-violence and other key steps necessary to ensure a free, fair and credible poll.
We all want an election provided we implement the necessary reforms which are resident in Zanu PF Ministries. It is our colleagues who are stalling the election because once they implement what we agreed, there is no reason why cannot have an election.
We are aware of the plot to frustrate us, to wear us down and force us out but we have a mandate and a covenant with the people. We will brave on and ensure that we hold a free and fair poll by creating an environment that will guarantee the security of the person, the security of the vote and the security of the people’s will.
So only after the key reforms have been implemented will the President and I agree on a date for elections. This is the Constitutional position and this is the position of the GPA, which is fully guaranteed by SADC and the AU. I agree with the President that we have cowards who are afraid of a poll.
Cowards refuse to implement reforms that will result in a free election. Cowards beat up people to coerce them into supporting them. Cowards are afraid of facing me in an election. Their best bet is to field a tired candidate because they believe he is the only one who can stand against Morgan Tsvangirai.
The way forward is a free and fair election but only predicated by a process which includes a new Constitution and the implementation of those reforms that will result in a credible poll. Anything else would be a circus.
And in addition, it would be a mockery of what South Africa, SADC and the AU have been painstakingly working on over the years. It will be an insult to African institutions by a party which preaches Pan-Africanism but practices fascism. The lesson of 2008 is that Zimbabwe cannot afford anything other than a credible poll.
Zanu PF is stalling the election because most of the reforms reside in their ministries. If these are implemented tomorrow, we can go to an election any time. The ball is in their court. Finally, it is clear that some provinces such as Masvingo have experienced a drought.
This government has a responsibility to ensure food security in the country. No one should starve. I want to assure the people that we will do will we can not only to provide food, but to create a peaceful country and a conducive environment for them to elect leaders of their choice
I Thank You
24 February 2012