Battle over governors continues

mugabe_morganHARARE - The Prime Minister and President's offices have issued conflicting statements on the status of provincial governors. (Pictured: Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai... as Tsvangirai, Mutambara appeal to Zuma)

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told reporters at his Munhumutapa offices on May 21 that the three principals in the four-month old inclusive government had agreed that out of the 10 provincial governors, Zanu (PF) would keep four, five would be appointed by Tsvangirai’s mainstream MDC and that Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara’s faction gets to appoint one.

The President’s Office has issued a totally different formula that contradicts Tsvangirai’s stated governors’ appointment formula.

The 10 provincial governors were unilaterally appointed by Mugabe last August without consulting the other three principals as prescribed in the memorandum of understanding. His spokesman George Charamba said Zanu (PF) would retain five governors, not four as the PM stated, the mainstream MDC would appoint four and Mutambara one.

Charamba said Mugabe intended to consult the Zanu (PF) Politburo before an agreement on the appointment of the provincial governors was effected. Tsvangirai, on the other hand, has said an agreement on provincial governors had already been reached.

While Tsvangirai said the six new provincial governors would be sworn in “at the soonest opportunity,” Charamba was quoted in the state-controlled press on Saturday stating that the incumbent governors would complete the first year of their two-year term before stepping down. The one year lapses in August, after which new MDC governors would be sworn-in, according to Charamba.

There are also disagreements on compensation for the axed governors. Legal experts said this week the Provincial Councils and Administration Act empowered the President to remove a governor from office at any time and that compensation was not usually given for loss of a political office such as this.

Tsvangirai, in contrast, announced that a severance package had been worked out. Official sources said the golden handshake included a US$1200 pay off, or 12 months salary at the current US$100 allowance, and other perks such as vehicles. Charamba claimed that the two MDC formations had indicated they would provide funds to compensate the sacked governors.

Legal experts said this seemed extraordinary, seeing that the MDC position is that the unilateral appointments of the governors were contrary to the memorandum of understanding (MOU) and the global political agreement that gave birth to the inclusive government. The agreement states that all senior government appointments should be done in concert between the three principals in the inclusive government.

The stand-off has forced the two MDC leaders to appeal to the SADC, guarantors of the power-sharing agreement.

Mutambara and Tsvangirai raised the issue in their recent letter to SADC chairman, SA president Jacob Zuma, who holds the rotating SADC chairmanship until August.

“With regard to the issues of provincial governors, although the negotiators agreed on a formula, there is little progress in the implementation of the same and more importantly in ensuring that new provincial governors are appointed in terms of the agreed formula,” said the two principals’ letter to Zuma, also copied to the SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salamao and to the African Union Commission chairman, Jean Ping.

“The failure to address the above issues is clearly affecting the credibility of the inclusive government. It is also causing great misapprehension in our respective political parties.”

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