Monday, 12 December 2011

Response to the PM’s Question of Whether We Expect Ministers to Cycle To Work.

Issue Date: Thursday 29 September 2011.

The Committee of the People's Charter (CPC) has it on good authority that at a Press Conference held at his offices on Wednesday 28 September 2011, the Right Honorable Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Mr. M. Tsvangirai, was also questioned about the recent purchase of luxury motor vehicles for members of Cabinet by journalists present. It is also reported that his response was to query the journalists as to whether they intended his subordinates in Cabinet to cycle to work. The CPC finds this to be a most inappropriate and unfortunate response from the Prime Minister (PM).

Because the PM is also Chairperson of the Council of Ministers as well as the de facto deputy to President Mugabe in Cabinet, we can only be seriously dismayed at the ease with which his good office wishes to brush aside a matter that talks to the misplaced values and priorities of the inclusive government.

Since it is assumed that the PM was speaking on the basis of the principle of ‘collective responsibility’ in government and therefore that all members of the Cabinet share the same view on the matter, citizens of Zimbabwe would not be mistaken if they now perceive the entirety of the inclusive government as insensitive, self absorbed and lacking in public accountability.

It would have been most prudent for the PM to speak to the pulse of the people’s concerns in relation to social services delivery and explain how the purchase of luxury vehicles for his subordinates in government will improve the latter.

Instead, the PM wrongly sought to put finality to this matter by alluding rather dismissively to questions of whether or not journalists expected the ministers to ride bicycles. If it means that electricity, water, health (including the Renal Service Unit at Parirenyatwa Hospital) and public transport services will become fully functional, it would not be a wrong thing for ministers to ride bicycles to work.

In any event, thousands of Zimbabweans ride bicycles to their workplaces and we distinctly remember the Prime Minister, prior to taking oath of office, urging Zimbabweans to ‘walk to work’ in protest at the policies of the previous government. As it is, it may seem that Zimbabweans may have to be urged to begin to do the same to draw the attention of the inclusive government.

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