Tsvangirai’s ommission of Biti as minister troubling

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The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai is racing against time to come up with his final list of preferred officials for cabinet posts. Minsters for the all inclusive government are expected to be sworn in On Friday, two days after Tsvangirai is officially made prime minister. However, a list of names has leaked to the media.

The list is for 13 ministries allocated to the MDC-T under the power-sharing agreement. Sources said Tsvangirai wanted the composition of his ministers to reflect the diversity in the MDC-T.

A surprise omission could be that of MDC secretary-general, Tendai Biti who is said to be content to be assigned to party duties outside the envisaged unity government between his party and Zanu-PF.

Biti and Tsvangirai have, of late, not been the best of friends, differing on whether the party should join in the unity government with the Mugabe regime or not.

The firebrand lawyer has been opposed to the idea of “going to bed with the Mugabe regime” while Tsvangirai now appears happy with the resolve to join the unity government, sources within the party’s national executive have said.

Sources say Biti fears a situation where after the formation of the unity government, Zanu-PF could destroy the MDC from close range as it would now be able to dictate the pace and direction of policy issues in the new government.

The sources said while Biti was trying by all means to advise Tsvangirai to be cautious in engaging and going to bed with Zanu-PF, the MDC leader was convinced Mugabe had backed down on his former hostile stance towards the party, hence it would be ideal to enter into a partnership with him before he changes tack.

“The crisis that our party leadership faces at the moment is the difference of opinion between the president and a number of his backers, on one hand, and Biti and his backers, on the other hand,” said a source. “There seems to be a yawning gap between the two because their approaches in dealing with Zanu-PF have proved to be far different. The two are no longer the best of friends and this is likely to cause further divisions within the party.” Another source revealed that already, there were pointers the differences between Biti and Tsvangirai had reached boiling point.

The other top MDC-T politician being considered for cabinet was Tapiwa Mashakada. The economist could be named Minister of Economic Planning. It remained unclear last night who would take the crucial Ministry of Finance.

Sources said that Tsvangirai was still searching for the right candidate.
They said he was casting his net wider, even across the borders in search of a person who could guide the ministry. The sources said Tsvangirai was also considering including Eddie Cross, the MDC policy co-ordinator in his cabinet.

A surprise inclusion in the Tsvangirai line-up could be former MP and party treasurer Roy Bennett who returned to the country recently after some years in self-imposed exile.

Sources said either Advocate Eric Matinenga or Douglas Mwonzora (both MPs) could be considered for the Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs portfolio.

Unless Tsvangirai decided otherwise, veteran educationist Fidelis Mhashu was expected to be named the minister of Sport, Arts and Culture.
Former Harare Mayor Elias Mudzuri is tipped to get the National Housing and Social Amenities portfolio while veteran trade unionist Lucia Matibenga was tipped for the Labour portfolio.

The officials being considered for the other ministries include national executive members: Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, Giles Mutsekwa, Jessie Majome, Paurina Mpariwa and Nelson Chamisa, who is the party spokesperson.

It remained unclear if Tsvangirai had made up his mind on what portfolios these officials would take.

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