3 January 2009

Zimbabwe: Losing Ministers Axed

Harare — CABINET ministers and their deputies who failed to secure seats in either the House of Assembly or Senate and were subsequently not appointed non-constituency MPs this past week had their executive appointments terminated.

A Government insider indicated that the ministers and their deputies, who number 12 in total, received letters of termination signed by the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda.

Though no official confirmation could be obtained at the time of writing, the Secretary for Information and Publicity, Cde George Charamba, indicated that President Mugabe was going ahead with the formation of a new Government.

This is pursuant to the invitation he extended to the two MDC formations to submit their preferred lists of ministers and for their leaders to come forward and be sworn into office in line with the September 15 agreement.

According to the broad-based agreement, Cde Mugabe remains Head of State and Government with Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and Professor Arthur Mutambara coming on board as Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister respectively.

"It is not my place to announce appointments or dis-appointments of an executive nature. What I can tell you though is that President Mugabe has already started preparing an administration.

"He is taking steps towards an early realisation of the formation of a new Government as per the mandate given to him by all three parties to the dialogue," Cde Charamba said.

The ministers affected are Cde Samuel Mumbengegwi (Finance), Cde Sikhanyiso Ndlovu (Information and Publicity), Cde Oppah Muchinguri (Gender, Women's Affairs and Community Development), Cde Munacho Mutezo (Water Resources and Development), Cde Michael Nyambuya (Energy and Power Development) and Cde Amos Midzi (Mines and Mining Development).

Others are Cde Chen Chimutengwende (Public and Interactive Affairs) and Cde Sithembiso Nyoni (Small and Medium Enterprises Development).

Cde Rugare Gumbo (Agriculture) lost in the Zanu-PF primaries as did deputy ministers Cde Kenneth Mutiwekuziva (SMEs), Cde David Chapfika (Agriculture) and Cde Edwin Muguti (Health and Child Welfare).

This means the portfolios of Agriculture and SMEs have lost both their ministers and their deputies.

However, the Minister of Transport and Communications, Cde Christopher Mushohwe, and his Education, Sport and Culture counterpart Cde Aeneas Chigwedere were not affected following their appointments as governors of Manicaland and Mashonaland East respectively.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Cde Patrick Chinamasa and the Minister of Agricultural Engineering, Mechanisation and Irrigation, Cde Joseph Made, were also retained since President Mugabe had already appointed them to the Senate.

Observers said indications were that President Mugabe was definitely proceeding with the formation of a new Government as evidenced by the termination of the incumbency of the affected individuals and the recent meeting between Cde Mugabe and MDC leader Professor Arthur Mutambara.

This view has received added impetus by revelations that Zanu-PF's negotiators to the inter-party talks would soon meet Cde Thabo Mbeki's facilitation team in South Africa "to discuss how best to proceed in light of MDC-T's apparent reluctance to allow progress".

Full details of the meeting were unavailable at the time of writing.

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