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Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Reorganizes Cabinet

Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai gives a press conference in Harare to announce the reshuffling of ministers belonging to The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, 23 Jun 2010

Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangarai has sacked some top members of his Movement for Democratic Change from their Cabinet positions. Mr. Tsvangirai says he has made changes to try to deliver more progress for the transitional government.

Prime Minister Tsvangirai's MDC has half the Cabinet posts in the unity government. He has changed a significant portion of those he appointed when the inclusive government was sworn into power by President Robert Mugabe in February 2009.

Mr. Tsvangirai says although there has been significant progress in stabilizing the economy, many other aspects of change have moved far too slowly. He said the successes have been overshadowed by the slow pace of reform and abuse of power.

He said these failures have led to loss of confidence in the new administration.

The MDC says many of the continuing breaches of the September 2008 political agreement, the foundation stone of the unity government, have been selective prosecutions, mainly of MDC legislators and supporters.

Mr. Tsvangirai axed home affairs minister Giles Mutsekwa, criticized by many for failing to control the police, and replaced him with one of the tough women from the MDC, Theresa Makone. But Makone does not control the man in charge of the police, Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, who reports only to Mr. Mugabe.

As Zimbabwe continues to suffer massive and widespread power shortages, Mr. Tsvangirai replaced his energy minister, Elias Mudzuriwith, with Elton Mangoma who was previously highly regarded as minister of economic planning.

Mr. Tsvangirai had to clear the changes to the Cabinet with Mr. Mugabe.

"The president was not alarmed. It is my responsibility," he said. "I do not seek his approval, I seek his endorsement as somebody who is going to swear in these people. We had a very fruitful discussion on this matter."

Political analysts and economist have said repeatedly there is little progress in three ministries, justice, mines, and agriculture, which are all controlled by ZANU-PF.

Mr. Tsvangirai said Mr. Mugabe's failure to immediately swear in Roy Bennett as deputy agriculture minister was an obstacle in the unity government.

"No one has a veto over who I appoint, and, in this case I have already appointed him as deputy minister of agriculture and it will remain so until this matter is resolved," he said.

The process of writing a new constitution has just begun nine-months behind schedule.