Movement for Democratic Change president Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in Wednesday as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe in a historic move to establish a government of national unity after years of political, economic and social crises. The swearing in of Morgan Tsvangirai is expected to pave way for the revival of the economy and bring about rule of law and genuine democratic changes. Following this historic move, we decided to look at the voices, analyses and mood of Zimbabweans in the blogosphere.
Harare based blogger and Global Voices Author, Denford Magora, explains where the real political power lies in the new government structure. He has no doubt that the power lies with Robert Mugabe. He explains why:
Instead of being sworn in by the Chief Justice of Zimbabwe as Mugabe was, Tsvangirai was sworn in by Mugabe. The significance of this lies in the fact that, despite Tsvangirai's previous protestations that he was on par with Mugabe in a government of equals, he will actually be reporting to the “President”.
Point number two is the actual oath itself. In this oath, Tsvangirai swore to serve faithfully as Prime Minister, as expected, but then he was also sworn into cabinet and had to say that he will offer, to the best of ability, advice to the president in that cabinet. There was no mention of the Council of Ministers, which Tsvangirai Chairs, while Mugabe chairs cabinet.
The significance of this is that it is clear that the Council of Ministers has virtually no standing constitutionally. It is only an operational detail, an organisational convenience. It was not mentioned at all during the swearing in. But the cabinet, which Mugabe will chair and which Tsvangirai had to swear to respect and to serve faithfully, was mentioned by all three people sworn in today.
This is important because I fully expect that arguments that will crop up in future will be related to the powers of the Council of Ministers, chaired by Tsvangirai, and Cabinet, chaired by Mugabe. Tsvangirai will, before long, find that decisions made by the Council will be overturned or even ignored at Cabinet if they do not fall in line with Mugabe's own policies and “vision”.
Legally Mugabe will have a leg to stand on when he breaches the decisions of the Council because, as we witnessed today, the Council of Ministers is not equal to the cabinet. Tsvangirai has sought to lead people to believe that it is, just as he still seeks to make people that this government is a two-year government, when in fact Mugabe is very clear and has even told Tsvangirai to his face that this is a five-year government, in which Mugabe seeks to see through his “term of office” arising out of the June 27 presidential run-off hoax.
Denford wonders why Morgan Tsvangirai's supporters did not show up for the event:
What I found puzzling was that Tsvangirai's supporters on the continent did not show up for his inauguration. Khama of Botswana was nowhere to be seen. Nor was Jakaya Kikwete, president of Tanzania, whom the state media have started to badmouth recently for his alleged closeness to the opposition leader. President Wade of Senegal, who is also a supporter of Tsvangirai, was also absent. Still, it was a good day.
The swearing in of ministers is something we also need to pay attention to see where the “real power” lies. Denford continues:
On Friday, the ministers will be sworn in. It will be interesting to see who will swear them in, Mugabe or Tsvangirai. If it is Mugabe, as I fully expect, since he is the one that Chairs cabinet, then it will be final confirmation that Tsvangirai is being treated constitutionally as the First Minister and nothing more. Of course, no one is going to be sworn in to serve in the Council of Ministers (Chaired by Tsvangirai), because this is a body that will report to cabinet, so it is like a sub-committee.
Eusebia celebrates the arrival of new Zimbabwe, “…albeit not in the democratic way we all would have loved it to happen….” Democracy, argues Eusebia, should come out of a free and fair democratic elections:
Democracy the way we understand it has been shrugged of by this coalition government which is not a result of free and fair democratic elections but most Zimbabweans are not worried about that. Democracy has been made to wait awhile until the near death nation has been rescucitated, until the suffering of the people due to the economic collapse in the country has been eliminated, until the sick have been saved from dying because of lack of hospital treatment and until the education system has been revived. I personally think Tsvangirai and the MDC made a good decision and am going to support the coalition government by doing my part in rebuilding the nation, I believe that the change I want to see in this nation has to begin with me.
She rejoiced over the swearing in of Morgan Tsvangirai with the voice of Celine Dion:
Is it just me or do you also think of music every time something good happens in your life. Today as I rejoiced over the swearing in of Tsvangirai as Prime Minister the song, ” A new day has come,” by Celine Dion invaded my mind because I had been waiting for so long for a miracle to happen in Zimbabwe and reverse the plight of the suffering people. Everyone told me to be strong, to hold on and not shed a tear.
Through the darkness and good times, I knew I'd make it through, was determined to survive it all and not be counted as one of the dead victims of cholera or hunger.
The suffering in Zimbabwe, everywhere I looked felt like I was in a tunnel where I could not see the light but, hush now I see a light in the sky. Oh it's almost blinding me, feels like the country has been touched by an angel with love.
Below is a widget with the lyrics of this song that I am celebrating this wonderful day in the history of Zimbabwe with.
Bearded Man does not seem to have much faith in the new government since “Mugabe is obviously power-hungry and has little or no intention of sharing power with anybody…” and ZANU PF operates under the “golden rule”:
ZANU PF operate under what I call ‘the golden rule’ – him with the gold makes the rules.
As I stated in my editorial “Tsvangirai Is Prime Minister – But Will He Be Allowed To Hold The Position?” yesterday, ” But the question which will only be answered by the passing of time is: Will Tsvangirai be allowed to fulfil the functions of Prime Minister, or will he find each and every move he makes being blocked and parried by Mugabe and his cohorts?
As the present agreement states that various advents and decisions have to be made jointly by Mugabe and Tsvangirai – and given the history between the two, are we in for more lengthy negotiations which will result in either Mugabe having his own way, or a permanent stalemate?”
Sokwanele posts a text message sent from the stadium when the swearing in ceremony was taking place:
This sms from the stadium just sent by a text message from someone there.
“mt [Morgan Tsvangirai] is making speech to crowd of 60 thousand. he welcomed all incl zpf [ZANU PF] and said there would be no going back on the agreement. they now leading up to new elections. he called on sadc to be partners. 19 yrs ago to the day mandela walked out of prison. the struggle has moved to a new arena. polarising of the country must end today. abuse of human rights must end. freedom of expression, no pseudo democracy, must implement democratisatio in parliament. calls for release of all political prisoners.”
“drop duties on food. stabilise economy, zim has skills and brains to create new zim. schools and hospitals to be priority. pay in forex is guaranteed for army, teachers and health workers by end of month. calls for opening of schools on monday. party and state shall be apart. pm calls for transparent govt, appeals to all parties to recongnise each other. calls on zim to help themselves, unite and asks the people to unite with democratic values. asks for support from zim and god bless zim.”
The blog also has the inauguration speech:
His Excellency, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai,
Your Majesty, King Mswati III, the Chairman of the AU Commission, Mr Jean Ping, President Mugabe, former President Mbeki, Your Excellencies, Honoured Guests, People of Zimbabwe,
Today is an historic day for our country. As we form this transitional government, we look back with reflection on the difficult journey that has brought us to this day, and look forward with determination to the road that lies ahead.
To my fellow African leaders, there can be no turning back on the political agreement which each party has signed, knowing it is not a perfect agreement but still a workable one. An agreement that if implemented with good faith, will deliver a peaceful way forward toward a stable economy, a new constitution and free and fair elections. Brothers and sisters in SADC and the AU, we are counting on you to be our partners and to ensure that this agreement is upheld as we face the challenges of rebuilding our country in the days ahead.
Denford posts the list of all ministers of the new government. He notes that the position of the Reserve Bank Governor may become a bargaining chip between Tsvangirai and Mugabe:
Tendai Biti who, during the March 2008 election campaign said Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono “should be put in front of a firing squad” will now be boss to that very same Gono.
It is almost certain that within a month of this government being sworn in, Biti will seek to fire Gono. Mugabe will fight this tooth and nail. In the end, Gono's job may well become a barganing chip between the two leaders, Mugabe and Tsvangirai, as they seek to extract more concessions from each other.
Despite the significance and the historic nature of the swearing in of Morgan Tsvangirai as the Prime Minister, there seems to be a lot of work ahead for the new government to function smoothly as Denford analyses:
While Tsvangirai will be PM, he will not be chairing cabinet meetings. That remains Mugabe's job. He will instead chair the Council of Ministers, which sounds similar to Cabinet is apparently a less powerful body.
This has given rise to fierce disagreements between the two principals, with Mugabe saying that he defines the ministries and then Tsvangirai simply allocated them for his own party members. Tsvangirai, as betrayed by his statement above, insists that as Prime Minister, he should write the job descriptions of the ALL ministers.
Mugabe apparently conceded last week by saying Tsvangirai could write the job descriptions for MDC ministers but must leave ZANU PF ministers alone. Tsvangirai wants to be able to define the mandates of ALL ministers.