Thursday March 11, would be recorded as one of the busiest days in
Zimbabwean politics after rulings by country’s Supreme Court affected two MDC ministers. The surprise rulings were followed by Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s decision to end the fragile inclusive government.
Speaker of Parliament, Lovemore Moyo, was deposed of his post by a Supreme Court judgment, followed by the arrest of Energy Minister Elton Mangoma, and the overturning of Attorney General Johannes Tomana’s appeal on the acquittal of MDC treasury general Roy Bennett by Supreme Court judge Godfrey Chidyausiku.
A total of 22 Western envoys later issued an unprecedented joint appeal to Zimbabwean security forces to be impartial and non- political followed by a hastily arranged press briefing by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to announce that he wants an end to the fragile inclusive government and called for elections.
All this played out as President Mugabe was on his way to Ethiopia.
On Thursday morning three plain clothes police constables arrested Energy Minister Elton Mangoma at his ministerial office on charges of violating official
tender procedures in procuring fuel.
Mangoma, a senior member of Tsvangirai’s MDC party and a key member
of negotiators to the Global Political Agreement, is alleged to have swerved legal procedure and sanctioned the import of $6m worth of fuel by a South African company in January during a critical shortage of diesel and petrol.
Tsvangirai told a press conference that the actions were an attack on the heart of the two-year-old coalition government between him and 87-year-old Mugabe, and an attempt by Mugabe to regain what he lost in an election.
The country was in crisis, he said, calling for a clean divorce of the coalition through credible elections.
“The fact that a Cabinet minister can be arrested by a constable is a reflection of ZANU PF’s total disregard to the basic tenets of decency. His arrest is an assault on the GPA. Mangoma, just like Mwonzora, (MDC-T MP) Munyaradzi Gwisai and Rodgers Tazviona (MDC-T MP) are all innocent victims of a barbaric and senseless dictatorship,” Tsvangirai said.
On ending the unity government he said, “We have reached a moment where we are saying, let’s agree that this is not working, it’s dysfunctional”. Adding that “If there is a breakdown in the relationship of the parties in the GPA, it is important for the parties to agree on a clean divorce. As far as we are concerned, the roadmap that President Zuma has committed himself to draw up is the only solution to this madness”.
The premier said Mangoma’s arrest was Zanu PF’s attempt to obscure the
massive corruption that was taking place at the Chiadzwa diamond fields where US$300 million in proceeds from the sale of the precious stones have not yet been accounted for.
Early on, Supreme Court overturned the election of the MDC’s Moyo as
Speaker of Parliament. Jonathan Moyo claimed the August 2008 vote that
elected the MDC-T Speaker was not secret and violated parliamentary
rules on voting.
One analyst said the court was under pressure from Mugabe’s party to have a speaker from his party.
“Zimbabwe’s current constitution says that in the event that the president dies in office, the speaker of parliament assumes office and is supposed to call for elections within a period of 180 days. Mugabe is very ill, that’s why they want to take away that power from the MDC,”.
Analysts believe that the explosive crisis in government feeds Mugabe’s agenda to collapse the Global Partnership Arrangement so as to stampede the country into early elections in which the outcome, like the 2008 elections, would be pre-determined.