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Zimbabwan President Robert Mugab Brews Another Shocke

Published on Tuesday 11th May 2010 Zimbabwan President Robert Mugab Brews Another Shocke

THE inclusive government is headed for another clash over an impending reshuffle in the judiciary and the re-assigning of ambassadors by President Robert Mugabe.

MDC-T, which together with MDC-M and Zanu PF formed an inclusive government last year is reportedly alarmed that Mugabe is planning another round of unilateral appointments.

This comes at a time when talks between the three governing parties have reached a deadlock over the ageing leader's refusal to reverse the controversial appointments of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana.

Sources said moves are afoot to appoint former Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson Justice George Chiweshe as Judge President.

The incumbent Judge President Justice Rita Makarau would be re-assigned to the Judicial Services Commission (JSC).

Mugabe is also said to be in the process of re-assigning Zimbabwe's representatives to the United Nations in New York and Geneva and the envoy to Angola without consulting his partners in the coalition.

Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs minister Eric Matinenga and Deputy Justice minister Jessie Majome both from MDC-T said they had heard about the reshuffle in the judiciary through the grapevine.

"I was shocked and dismayed about three weeks ago when I received a call from a journalist at a state-run newspaper who wanted my comment about the appointment of Justice Chiweshe as Judge President," said Majome.

"I was even more surprised when a colleague (name supplied) from the MDC-T who is also a minister asked me how we were going about the appointments."

Majome said she would take up the matter with senior officials in the ministry to get an appraisal on the appointments, and why she was sidelined.

"I am actually in the process of asking the Permanent Secretary (David Mangota) if there are plans to do that, and the reasons for doing so.

"I expect to be briefed and advised on these issues. I need to be given the correct position by the permanent secretary of the Ministry," she said.

The unilateral reshuffle, she added, would be against the provisions of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and defeats the whole idea of having a minister and deputy minister from different parties.

"I am also interested to know how those appointments would be done in line with the fact that we are in an inclusive government.

"There would be need for the GPA parties to address that because it would be an anomaly.

"These appointments would also be in the same bad taste as that statutory instrument that redefined the roles of some ministers.

"We are in an inclusive government, and these appointments should also reflect that."

Zanu PF is also preparing to re-table the Attorney General's Bill without consulting its coalition partners. The Bill was shelved years ago after it added impetus to the former sole ruling party's raging factional fights.

Majome said the move to make senior judiciary appointments without consulting her was against the letter and spirit of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which prohibits "political favouritism" in government appointments.

Article 13 of the GPA states that all "State organs and institutions do not belong to any political party and should be impartial in the discharge of their duties".

Says the article: "For the purposes of ensuring that all state organs and institutions perform their duties ethically and professionally in conformity with the principles and requirements of a multi-party democratic system in which all parties are treated equally, the Parties have agreed that ... recruitment policies and practices be conducted in a manner that ensures that no political or other form of favouritism is practised."

Matinenga said the move was another slap in the face for the MDC-T, which appears powerless to stop Mugabe's unilateralism.
"I have heard rumours about the appointment of Chiweshe," said Matinenga.

"I have not been consulted. This is the sad thing about the situation we find ourselves in, that things are not being done in a transparent manner.

"There must be transparency in the appointment of these persons. As far as I am aware, there are other persons in the judiciary who are senior to him."

Matinenga however said it was important to constitute the JSC and also put in place legal provisions for the AG's office to be independent from political interference.

Sources said there would be nothing illegal with the appointments going ahead without Majome being consulted, as the minister and permanent secretary are not constitutionally obliged to do so.

The same applies to the reshuffling of the ambassadors since the GPA only caters for new appointments. But the move betrays the lack of inclusivity in the coalition.

Once it comes into force, the JSC would look into issues of remuneration for judicial officers. This would be an attempt to make the judiciary more independent from the executive.

Chinamasa was not reachable for comment. In the past, Mugabe has unilaterally re-assigned roles of ministers and in the process stripped a number of representatives from both MDC formations of their powers.

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