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Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai Gives Up On State House

Published on Monday 26th July 2010

PRIME Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai has given up on moving into Zimbabwe House and has accepted a "lesser" house in Highlands, as President Robert Mugabe continues to hold onto both the property reserved for the head of government and State House, his official residence.

Zimbabwe House is ceremonially reserved for the prime minister, while State House is the president's residence.

Since the formation of the inclusive government, almost two years ago, Tsvangirai has been battling Mugabe for Zimbabwe House, but the veteran ruler has been obstinate forcing the prime minister to settle for the Highlands house.

Tsvangirai, on the other hand, has been resident at his family home in Strathaven.

However, the house in Highlands is under renovations and Tsvangirai will have to wait a little longer before moving into the house, The Standard can reveal.

A confidant close to the prime minister revealed that the former trade unionist had accepted the house though he was yet to move in.

Tsvangirai's daughter Rumbidzai and husband Calvin Nyarota, held their wedding ceremony at the house a week ago.

The confidant said Mugabe's refusal to hand over Zimbabwe House to the prime minister was part of a larger power game.

Nathaniel Manheru, a Herald columnist believed to be Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba often refers to Tsvangirai as a senior minister to show that he is not an equal to the Zanu PF leader.

"They have never accepted that Tsvangirai is Prime Minister and if they were to give it to him that would be a significant climb down and they do not want to accept that," the source said referring to Mugabe and his Zanu PF party.

The source said there was reluctance in Zanu PF to accept Tsvangirai and this had led them to try and belittle and subvert him at every turn.

The source added that Tsvangirai was viewed as a "senior minister" and was not accorded as much respect as Mugabe despite supposedly being equal partners in government.

Tsvangirai's spokesman, James Maridadi confirmed that the prime minister had since been allocated a house.

"The house is still being spruced up and the PM will only move in once that is complete," he said.

Asked why Tsvangirai had settled for a seemingly lesser house not befitting his stature, Maridadi said the prime minister had not been too fussy about accommodation and had been quite comfortable at his family house in Strathaven.

Maridadi said it was government protocol that Tsvangirai stay at a house befitting his position and he felt that the Highlands house was adequate.

"At the new house he will be able to perform his premiership functions as required by protocol and it befits that status," he said.

Between 1980 and 1987 Mugabe resided at Zimbabwe House while he was still prime minister, while Canaan Banana, then president, lived at State House.

The two houses are opposite each other, while the Chief Justice is supposed to reside next door to the president.

It has also emerged that the widows of vice presidents Simon Muzenda and Joseph Msika are still holding onto the state houses which had been allocated to their late husbands.

This has forced Joice Mujuru and John Nkomo to continue staying in their personal houses instead of moving into these two government-owned houses respectively.

Msika's widow resides in Mandara, a house, which ironically, was vacated by Joshua Nkomo's family after his (Nkomo's) death.

Housing and Social Amenities minister, Giles Mutsekwa declined to comment on the issue.

He claimed it was "unAfrican" to discuss dead people, saying the two widows "were there because of their late husbands".

Mutsekwa, however, warned that the net was closing in on former ministers who were still holding onto the government houses.

He said because former ministers were holding onto houses, ministers from outside Harare were being inconvenienced.

"I am also affected and I promise you that within the next few weeks we will have produced records of who is staying where," he said.

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