Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Tuesday attended his first Cabinet meeting in a month - but tensions have not eased in the shaky government of national unity.
Outside the Cabinet meetings, Mr Tsvangirai has not been attending once-customary weekly discussions and briefings with President Robert Mugabe. Relations between their two parties, if not overtly between themselves, have grown increasingly contentious with Mr. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change formation accusing Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party of preparing a coercive environment for new national election widely expected in 2011.
The MDC's primary political complaint is that it believes Mr Mugabe has acted unilaterally in making government appointments taking many other important decisions relating not only to naming provincial governors and judges but also at times rearranging Cabinet portfolios.
A meeting was scheduled on the weekend of the Southern African Development Community troika on defense and security for a briefing by South African President Jacob Zuma, mediator in Zimbabwe for SADC, but the panel's chairman and another member failed to show up in Gaborone, Botswana, for the session on the sidelines of a new HQ inauguration.
Mr Zuma is now expected in Harare late this week for consultations with the three principals in the so-called inclusive government on what ails power sharing.
Despite that, tensions rose again this week after Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo of ZANU-PF dismissed Bindurfa Mayor Daniso Wakatama and local Councilor Christopher Mazembe, accusing them of maladministration.
In a statement Monday, the MDC called on what it called progressive forces to campaign for Chombo’s removal as local government ministers, accusing him in-turn of corruption.
The MDC took a swipe at ZANU-PF, accusing the former ruling party of “maladministration, corruption and embezzlement” of council resources in its years in power.
Elsewhere, sources said the Harare Foreign Ministry has recalled for debriefing Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Australia, Jacqueline Zwambila, for allegedly stripping in front of male colleagus at the Zimbabwean Embassy.
ZANU-PF officials have been calling on President Mugabe to dismiss her.
Ian Makone, chief of staff for Prime Minister Tsvangirai, told VOA reporter Blessing Zulu that Zwambia has not been recalled but was in Harare for consultations about the alleged incident in Australia, various accounts of which have proliferated in the Zimbabwean media.
Zwambila, though, has also brought divisions in the MDC with some members saying she needs to be recalled for embarrassing her party by behaving in an undiplomatic way. Zwambila's case is set to be discussed Wednesday by the party's Standing Committee.
ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo told Zulu that the conduct of MDC officials in government is worrying.
In another sign that all is not well in the inclusive government, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Mzila-Ndlovu of the MDC formation of deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that he was not briefed about the Zwambila incident by the foreign affairs minister or his officials.
Zwambila reportedly accused embassy officials of being "sellouts" after they "leaked" to the state media a website on which she was writing supporting the so-called targeted sanctions against Mr Mugabe and members of his inner circle.
The state media charged her position ran against the inclusive government policy calling on the target ted measures to be lifted. Political analyst Trevor Maisiri said resolving Harare’s deepening crisis needs foreign intervention.