7 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Cabinet Under Fire

CONSTITUTIONAL and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga says the country's political power matrix has resulted in Cabinet failing to implement some critical measures aimed at moving the country forward due to failure by ministers to "see the bigger picture".

In a question and answer session with The Financial Gazette this week, Matinenga, who is currently serving his last and only term in both Parliament and Cabinet after opting not to seek re-election, said he would quit politics a disappointed man as more could have been achieved had some members not concentrated on political brinkmanship.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) minister conceded that ZANU-PF controls the levers of power in the three-party inclusive government.

He joins other Cabinet ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, Finance Minister Tendai Biti and Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube, who have expressed misgivings over the performance of government's top decision making organ in whose hands power has been collectively entrusted by the Constitution.

"I am disappointed in that we could have achieved more than what we managed to achieve and I think the performance I expected could not be realised because of the unfortunate power matrix in this august body.

"You will realise that if there was an issue which was traceable more to a political party, the discussion around that issue would be on political lines. The question of power and control manifested itself in Cabinet decisions at times. Obviously, the moment you do that, you lose sight of the bigger picture," said Matinenga.

The minister cited the issue of indigenisation and sanctions as matters that have been subjected to partisan interests.

He said the current indigenisation policy in which 51 percent shareholding in foreign-owned companies must be ceded to black Zimbabweans did not address the issues of investment or job creation.

On sanctions, Matinenga said he agreed with a previous statement made by Mutambara that people were suffering from "internal sanctions" imposed by their own rulers.

"Let us address the issue of violence, of Gukurahundi; You do not have takers. I am passionate about the issue of transitional justice," added Matinenga.

In May this year, Mutambara said Cabinet had been "blind, deaf and dumb" in some decisions it had taken to the extent that it was "guilty as charged".

Biti is also on record saying the country's economy is in dire straits because of Cabinet's ineffectiveness.

Some ministers have defied decisions emanating from Cabinet, in addition to thumping their nose at the Global Political Agreement, which led to formation of the inclusive government in 2009, underlining Cabinet's ineffectiveness.

One such ministry is the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity headed by Webster Shamu which has long branded media reforms as illegal.

No corrective action has been taken to whip into line the leadership of this particular ministry.

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