Friday, October 07, 2011

(NEWZIMBABWE) MDC-T 'suspends' minister over US cables

MDC-T 'suspends' minister over US cables
07/10/2011 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

JUSTICE and Legal Affairs Deputy Minister Obert Gutu was suspended from his position as spokesman of the MDC-T party’s Harare provincial executive after leaked United States cables showed him telling diplomats that party leader Morgan Tsvangirai was weak and given to nepotism. MDC-T Harare provincial chairman Paul Madzore said Gutu was suspended last week over statements he made to US ambassador Charles Ray in January 2010.

“It is true that we suspended him as the provincial executive and the suspension was indefinite, but we are thinking of lifting it soon,” the Zimbabwe Independent quoted Madzore as saying. Don Chiringa, an official in the Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s office, was now the acting provincial spokesman.

But Gutu and the MDC-T’s secretary general Tendai Biti poured cold water on the reported move, insisting that the party’s provincial executive had no such authority.
“That’s news to me,” Gutu told the Independent.

Biti, himself described as “ambitious” and sharply opposed to Tsvangirai on tactics in the cables released by WikiLeaks, added: “The provincial executive has no power to suspend Gutu.

“It is only the national executive that can do that. The provincial executive has not communicated with us on that issue so it is not true that Gutu has been suspended.”

Tsvangirai, fearing dividing his party, came out publicly last week to insist that no action will be taken against officials who were critical of him in the cables including treasurer Roy Bennett, Biti, Gutu and organising secretary Nelson Chamisa.

“Our party regards WikiLeaks with suspicion,” said Tsvangirai. “We can’t follow rumours and we cannot run a country on gossip. We are not doing anything about that and that’s where it ends.”

Gutu told Ambassador Ray during a meeting held on January 30, 2010, that although he was “tolerant and humble”, Tsvangirai was however undone by being “indecisive and inconsistent”.
Ambassador Ray wrote: “(Senator) Gutu also stated that Tsvangirai had a tendency to listen to the wrong people.

“He pointed to Ian Makone, Tsvangirai's chief of staff, and Makone's wife, Theresa, who is the Minister of Public Works.

“He opined that neither was a good strategist, and that the Office of the Prime Minister was weak due to Ian Makone's lack of leadership.”

Gutu also laid into Tsvangirai for employing relatives.

“Gutu noted that (Murisi) Zwizwai and Tsvangirai are cousins and this is another example of friendship getting in the way of governance,” Ray added in the cable.
Bennett was most scathing, describing Tsvangirai as a weak political operator who "does what the last person tells him to do."

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