Provincial ministers queried

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s appointment of 10 provincial ministers has come under fire with critics     saying he is subverting the Constitution by bringing in provincial governors disguised as ministers.

Provincial governors were scrapped and replaced with elected chairpersons under a deal reached by President Robert Mugabe and his coalition partners during the inclusive government era.

The new Constitution stipulates that the provincial chairperson will come from the party with majority seats in that particular province and the chairperson must be elected by the provincial council.

But Mugabe, during his Cabinet announcement, named 10 ministers of State for the 10 Zimbabwean provinces, in what the MDC has slammed as the subversion of the new Constitution.

Mugabe named Eunice Nomthandazo Moyo as the minister of State for Bulawayo, Miriam Chikukwa for Harare, retained Christopher Mushowe in Manicaland, in Manicaland Central appointed Martin Dinha, in Mashonaland East Simbaneuta Mudarikwa, in Mashonaland West Faber Chidarikire, in Masvingo Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, in Matebeleland North Cain Mathema, in Matabeleland South Abednigo Ncube and in Midlands he appointed Jason Machaya to be minister of State for the province.

The national executive and the national council of Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC met in Harare on Friday and unanimously resolved  to resist Mugabe’s alleged attempt to circumvent and defeat the constitutionally well spelt-out principle of devolution of power to the provinces.

“The MDC has noticed that this subversion of the constitution is going to be a key feature of Mugabe’s presidency,” MDC spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said. “To that end, the party resolved to fight by all means necessary all the attempts by Mugabe and Zanu PF to subvert the people’s Constitution.”

The smaller MDC led by Welshman Ncube was also taken aback by the appointment of provincial ministers of State by Mugabe.

David Coltart, the MDC  legal affairs secretary, said the appointment of 10 ministers of State for provincial affairs scuttles all hopes for devolution envisaged under the new Constitution.

He said it will cause duplication of roles as the lines would be blurred on who exactly “would be in charge of provinces, considering that there will be provincial councils”.

Lovemore Madhuku, a constitutional law expert, said all this is a consequence of the adoption of a bad Constitution. Madhuku, whose National Constitutional Assembly campaigned for a No vote in the constitutional referendum and lost, said the new charter was vague and gave Mugabe wide discretionary powers.

“Under Mugabe, the constitution will mean anything he wants it to mean,” Madhuku said.

“This Constitution is unclear, gives Mugabe a lot of powers.

“And with this whole appointment of ministers of State in the provinces,  there is no law stopping Mugabe from appointing any number of ministers.

“Clashing of duties between the provincial chairs and these ministers is another thing.”

Trevor Maisiri, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, devolution was facing a real and present danger.

“The appointment of ministers of State for provincial affairs has dashed hopes of decentralising power,” he said.

“Those provincial ministers will report directly to the President, hence their interaction with provincial councils or mayors of respective areas will be superficial. They will override every programme set to be taken in their respective provinces.”

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