Q:Prime Minister Tsvangirai, kindly give us your assessment of the transitional Government since its formation?
PM:The formation of the transitional Government was received positively across the political divide. I think it has proven over the first one and half years that it is the only avenue to address various problems the country was facing. Over the first one and half years, we saw the improvement in the health and education sectors. In the general stabilisation of the economy we have also seen some minimum reforms in some areas as outlined in the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
Unfortunately the full implementation of the GPA continued to evade us as our colleagues in Zanu (PF) became reluctant to go all the way to implement those agreed positions, for instance, the appointment of governors, hate speech in the public media and other toxic issues such as the security sector re-alignment. There has been some reluctance or even refusal to undertake those reforms for whatever reason they have but it is a breach of the GPA that has been noticed by the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC).
The situation has worsened over the last six months with the election talk. Firstly, various spokespersons on behalf of Zanu PF are insisting that elections must be held this year and yet we all know that if it was going to be process driven to arrive at legitimate elections, then certain issues have to be dealt with before a date is announced.
Issues such as the constitution making process, the cleaning up of the voters’ roll, the delimitation process and electoral reforms. Zanu PF knew that they were participating in constitutional reform process, we have to go to Parliament with a draft and after that we will go for a referendum. They know that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission must put some things in place such as a credible and impartial secretariat as well as addressing the financing for those elections.
All thess issues can not be concluded in one month. When you add up all this, there’s no way you can have an election in 2011, possibly in 2012.
But we hope we will be able to hold these elections once everything that ensures a legitimate election has been put in place, because in the absence of credible and legitimate elections, the Zimbabwe crisis will continue. It is not healthy for the country to continue with the crisis.
Q:May you kindly comment on the operations of Cabinet since its formation?
PM:Government has largely operated on the basis of a Government Work Programme (GWP) which has been adopted by Cabinet. In other words, there are ministerial targets that each ministry has outlined and these were compiled into a GWP adopted by Cabinet. To a large extent, Cabinet has been operating just like any other Cabinet, however we have seen a distinct division between the two parties where certain ministries are no longer accountable to the collective.They are only accountable to the President. So you can see that there is growing discord and fissures within the Government and this is causing the Government to be dysfunctional. This is against the GPA and the law. The Constitution says specifically that all ministers are supposed to be supervised by the Prime Minister but that is in theory. In practice people have maintained their separate ways. They have remained answerable to their separate leadership.
For instance, the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity, in spite of repeated calls to the President to intervene in this ministry, nothing has happened. Again in spite of repeated calls for President Mugabe to reign in on some of the rogue elements in the military who have been pronouncing statements which are unconstitutional, he has not done so. It appears that people are either in defiance or are being encouraged to make those statements in order to sow seeds of discord to the only institution which has helped rescue this country, which is the transitional Government. I think these are matters that should concern every right thinking Zimbabwean that without the transitional Government this country will be plunged into chaos, and no one will benefit.
Q:Prime Minister, there’s a clear rift, like you said, among the partners in the transitional Government, what are some of the major differences among the partners?
PM:There are some who believe they can claim continued hold onto the State. There are some who believe that there’s need for change and that there’s need to take the country into another direction because what we have seen in the last 30 years is failure. Therefore there’s need to arrest that failure of governance and direct the country to being more productive.
Now, we are a coalition and in any coalition there has to be a minimum programme. Hence the GWP is a minimum programme that we are all committed to and that is why it should be our guiding principle as to what are the deliverables to the people, stabilisation of the economy, creating the confidence in the economy, making sure that the decline in the social sector, health and education sectors is arrested. It also involves making political and media reforms and undertaking
national healing. These are the critical issues that the transitional Government in its capacity should be dealing with.
Now the moment you talk of elections, the spirit of competition comes in. It is that spirit of competition not collaboration that characterised the first one and half years of this transitional Government. That has undermined the cohesion in this Government. It is not healthy at all for decisions of Government to be usurped in broad daylight.
Q:As the fissures in Government continue to grow, we have seen increasing violence around the country and over the weekend, a petrol bomb was thrown at Finance Minister Tendai Biti’s house. Are these incidences isolated or they are part of a grand strategy to intimidate and eliminate opponents?
PM:It is obvious this is cowardly behaviour. These are militias engaging in such barbaric behaviour. It should be condemned. It is a matter we are taking seriously and we will not let it pass just like that. How can a minister of Government feel unsafe in a state? If ministers are not safe in the country then who is safe?
We have a situation here where one half of Government is blatantly abusing and harassing the other half. We have had our meetings being banned, blatantly, and against the law and then the police embark on an aggressive strategy to intimidate the people through the use of police water canons, and riot police deployed in the suburbs.
The other thing that is very gruesome is a situation where the Prime Minister of the country is told what to say and what not to say by a police officer who should be answerable to the same Premier.
Q:SADC is convening in South Africa at the weekend, what do you want SADC to do?
PM:SADC is convening its extra-ordinary summit to discuss among other things, Zimbabwe. Our negotiators have agreed on a roadmap and we hope that that conclusion represents a step forward for SADC to adopt that roadmap. What is important is to agree on what should be done before an election is conducted and that is what SADC should endorse. But we Zimbabweans, together with SADC must talk amongst ourselves and SADC, as the guarantors, will help us unlock areas where we disagree.
Q:South African President Jacob Zuma, the SADC appointed Facilitator, has been attacked by certain Zanu (PF) delusional analysts in the public media, is there any formal position to dump President Zuma as the Facilitator?
PM:I do not think that it helps for anyone to attack the person of President Zuma. It does not help because SADC has appointed South Africa to be the Facilitator in the dispute here. One would respect SADC and its Organs and that Facilitator did not appoint himself. It is unfortunate that when Zanu PF disagrees with a certain Head of State they go in public and make derogatory statements.
This is an attempt by Zanu (PF) to damage the name and image of President Zuma in an attempt to distract him from the work at hand. It is irresponsible and should be condemned. It is also not diplomatic to attack President Zuma in public because you know that he will not respond in public.
Q:Prime Minister, what guarantee do Zimbabweans have that the roadmap that has been agreed to will be implemented in full given that Zanu (PF) has reneged on many agreements signed in the past?
PM:Elections will be held at the end of the roadmap and if conditions have not been changed, there will be questions to the legitimacy of those elections. Certain conditions are fundamental to the running of a credible election so that the outcome is not contestable. If those things have not been done then the outcome will be contested by those who feel short-changed. And we will be back to square one and yet what we want is to put paid to the issue of legitimacy.
Q:Aside from the elections, what is the position with regards to civil servants salaries?
PM:Contrary to certain press reports that Finance Minister Biti was pressurised by the President and by the security chiefs, that is not true. Minister Biti is a Minister of Government and he cannot individually decide on salaries. But as the Minister who has been given the mandate to run the finances of the Government he has every right to raise concerns about the implications of any increase, the magnitude of it, the impact on inflation and other monetary and fiscal problems that he faces. He has competently advised the whole executive on these issues. We have met as Principals and there are avenues we are looking at to raise money. Before we can embark on any increase there is new money that is required in order to meet the expectations of an increase in salaries. There are some people who want to politick with this important issue. It is not a Biti issue, it is not a Tsvangirai issue nor is it a Mugabe issue. It is a collective Government issue, as to how do we raise funds to fund the salary increase.
These are some of the areas we are looking at to raise money:
Cleaning the civil service based on the findings of the civil service audit.
Any possible sale of diamonds.
The mineral sector at large, and we are looking at many other avenues which we think can help raise funds.
We need to raise more than US$240 million to fund the pay rise and the 13th cheque between now and December.
Now there have been these threats against Biti coming from people who do not understand. There is no way one minister can determine what will happen to the collective, that is why his budget goes through Cabinet.
Q:Kindly comment on the civil servants audit which you have just mentioned?
PM:The audit established that there are thousands of people who are not supposed to be on the Government payroll. We are now reaching a stage where we will not pay those people. We are concerned that we cannot have a situation where people employ Government workers as if they are engaging their housemaids.