GNU power struggle intensifies

PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, has challenged the
role of Cabinet and is seeking to strengthen the functions of the
Council of Ministers, which he chairs, The Zimbabwe Guardian reports.
It is also understood that the changes that the PM is seeking
could result in him having the authority to craft a national
budget that would be adminis-tered by his Office rather than by
the Ministry of Finance andTreasury.

In a report entitled,“Comments and Suggestions
Alterations” that he forwarded to the Cabinet Office recently – a
copy of which is in the possession of The Zimbabwe Guardian – the PM seeks to
make sweeping changes to the Cabinet Handbook that guides the
operations of the Executive and its various committees, organs
and min-istries. The changes will see ministers
reporting to the PM and not the President – who as Head of State
chairs Cabinet.Reads part of his report: “Ministers are required to report
to the Prime Minister not to the President and the Prime Minister
in turn reports to the President. “And an Acting Minister
should consult the Prime Minister rather than the President in mat-
ters involving policy ini-tiatives orlegislation since it is the Prime
Minister who is responsible foroversee-ing initiatives and legisla-
tion.”

He argued that Acting Ministers were supposed to be
given the full authority of substantive Ministers and should act
only after consulting the PM.All the proposals fly in the face
of the Cabinet Handbook, the Constitution and the GPA, which
make it clear that Ministers report to the President as the
Head of State. The Cabinet Handbook, which
among other things is derived from the Constitution of
Zimbabwe, defines the operations of Cabinet, its committees and the
organs, which fall under the Chief Secretary to the President and
Cabinet.

Cabinet is the supreme administrative tool of Government and
is constituted according to the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
The Handbook also draws up Cabinet’s agenda as drafted by the
President “mindful of the flow of Government business in the cabi-
net”.

PM Tsvangirai argued in his paper that because executive pow-
ers were shared equally between Cabinet, the President and Prime
Minister, it was inap-propriate to refer President Mugabe as “Head
of State and Government”, but simply as “President” or “His
Excellency the President.”

Other changes PM Tsvangirai is seek-ing are that Ministers be enti-
tled to make public statements on policy issues without Cabinet
approval.He said Cabinet’s agenda was not sup-posed to be approved by
the President alone – even though he chairs the body.

He also wants to strip the Information Ministry of its role as
Government’s offi-cial public communicator by allowing every port-
folio head to make his/her own announcements without any cen-
tral co-ordination. He added that the Council of Ministers was “Cabinet in all but
name”, while hint-ing that it was his duty to assign Ministers which
Acts of Parliament they should administer.

He said he had no obligation to report to Cabinet.
Government spokespersons were not in a position to comment
on the report last night.However, observers said PM
Tsvangirai’s suggestions were “tanta-mount to usurping the pow-
ers of the President”, adding that there was “a need to educate new
members to Government on the operations of the State”.
“What these people must know is that President Mugabe and
Cabinet are one…the President is Cabinet.

“They should know that there is a dif-ference between the
Government and political parties.Their constitutions and value sys-
tems regulate political parties.“They are also affected and reg-
ulated by any agreement or understanding they may enter into with
other parties in pur-suance of shared or coincident interest.
“But parties as citizens of the country must submit themselves
to the constitu-tion of the country,” said an observer yes-terday.
He elaborated that Zanu-PF and PF-Zapu united based on shared
interests “whereas the unity between Zanu-PF and the MDC
formations was driven by a need to solve the country’s political,
economic and social problems”.

He said the GPA only bound by those that were party to it and
when it came to Government, all party functionaries were supposed to abide by the country’s constitution.
The observer said in Zimbabwe’s case, those portions
of the GPA affecting the composition and operations of
Government were consolidated in Constitutional Amendments
Number 18 and 19. “It is a mistake to try and
invoke the GPA to re-shape the Cabinet handbook. If the hand-
book is seen to be out of sync with the political parties, the correct
approach is to write into the national con-stitution the appropri-
ate sections of the GPA,” he said. A Government official close to
the developments, who requested anonymity, said it was “fatal to
raise issues that were outside the Constitution”, adding that the
Cabinet Handbook was a legal document and the operations of
Government were based on it.The official said the report
looked like “part of an MDC-T grand plan to weaken ministries
that do not fall under its portfolios”.

“MDC-T is trying to smuggle into Government issues it failed to have
fac-tored into the GPA and this is the wrong way to go about it
because it shows that the party is not sincere about what it signed up
to.
“This is a deliberate attempt to kill the Presidency and strengthen
the Prime Minister’s Office. Strictly speaking, the Premier is a
Minister.
“He is the most senior Minister but a Minister all the same. And this
report tries to place a Minister above the Constitutional Head of
State.”
This is the second time this week that MDC-T has been accused of
trying to undermine the President.
Earlier this week it emerged that Information and Communication
Technology Minister Nelson Chamisa has drafted an ICT Bill that seeks
to re-assign ministerial duties and leave the Media, Information and
Publicity, and the Transport and Infrastructure Development Ministers
without any relevance.
without any relevance.

Comments are closed

ADVERTISEMENT

Log in - BlogNews Theme by Gabfire themes