HARARE – Cabinet failed to sit on Tuesday despite the fact that President Emmerson Mnangagwa had to cut short his annual leave to attend to a crippling strike by doctors in public hospitals.
Cabinet is still to meet this year.
Even though Mnangagwa had to abruptly end his vacation, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga continues as acting president.
Deputy Information minister told the Daily News yesterday that “there was no Cabinet meeting because his Excellency the president is still on leave”.
Political analysts canvassed by the Daily News said the development is “shocking” as it displays lack of seriousness on the part of the country’s leadership to deal with the problems affecting the majority of Zimbabweans.
“It is telling when the president cuts short his leave to deal with the crisis, and the crisis remains unresolved and he is not allowed to resume his duties. Something is clearly amiss,” political analyst and former civic society leader McDonald Lewanika said.
Lewanika suggested that either Mnangagwa’s return from leave was cosmetic and only meant to paint a picture of someone seriously dealing with the issues, or he is simply ineffective.
“In any event, the development shows a government that is at sixes and sevens with multiple centres of authority and power.
“Without alternative explanations, the failure of Cabinet to meet in the midst of a crisis regardless of who would be in the chair is telling, and suggests a disheartening lack of urgency and order in the State,” said Lewanika.
Another analyst Piers Pigou said the absence of clarity on how Mnangagwa and Chiwenga are currently working gives rise to all sorts of speculations and confuses citizens.
Pigou said it was easy, under the circumstances to conclude that the cluelessness by the country’s leaders on how to extricate the country out of the economic quagmire it finds itself in is the reason why nobody seems keen on taking charge.
“Given the notification by the Apex Council for industrial action, it appears neither Mnangagwa nor his deputy, Chiwenga, has a clear route forward to resolve the currency and related salary and costs crises,” Pigou said.
Explaining his return from vacation, Mnangagwa said he wanted to directly engage Chiwenga over the crisis that followed the collapse of negotiations between junior doctors and government.
“I have cut short my leave to be in immediate and active consultation with the acting president in resolving the situation in the health sector,” reads part of the statement.
Chiwenga, in his capacity as acting president, had been tasked by Mnangagwa with resolving the impasse between the State and the junior doctors who are pressing for improved working conditions and better pay.
Prone to kneejerk reactions, Chiwenga immediately announced the sacking of about 500 junior doctors after the labour court deemed their industrial action illegal.
The decision which came hard on the heels of yet another impulsive pronouncement was largely condemned in the country with some analysts describing it as irrational.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba had told the Daily News at the time that his boss was concerned with the loss of life in public hospitals and rubbished claims that Mnangagwa’s return to work was a no-confidence vote in Chiwenga’s ability to handle the situation.
United Kingdom-based political analysts Alex Magaisa had pointed out at the time that Mnangagwa’s decision was a polite way of telling his deputy that he had performed dismally in his absence.
“I have had to cut my vacation because my deputy has failed to handle the crisis in the health sector’. That’s it, in a nutshell, without all the diplomatic frou-frou,” Magaisa wrote on his Twitter handle.
Yet Charamba maintained that “if you are in acting capacity, there are certain things that an acting president cannot do”.
“But also critically, where there is loss of life, it would be callous for a president to pretend everything is normal,” Charamba said.