President Mugabe yesterday swore in three new Cabinet ministers and three Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs at State House following a reshuffle announced on Monday. The three Cabinet ministers are Retired Major-General Happyton Bonyongwe (Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs) and Cdes Edgar Mbwembwe (Tourism, Environment and Hospitality Industry) and Chiratidzo Mabuwa (Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment).
Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs who took Oaths of Office before the President were Dr Paul Chimedza (Masvingo) and Cdes Webster Shamu (Mashonaland West) and Thokozile Mathuthu (Matabeleland North). Ambassador Aaron Maboyi Ncube, who was appointed Minister of State for Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs, was not present at the swearing-in ceremony. Soon after taking Oaths of Office, the three Cabinet ministers joined their counterparts in attending their first Cabinet meeting at State House.
The swearing-in ceremony was punctuated with laughter as President Mugabe and Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko cracked intermittent jokes that lightened the event. Referring to Cde Shamu who was once suspended from Zanu-PF for his alleged close links with former Vice President Joice Mujuru, President Mugabe left everyone in stitches when he quipped: "Back to business." Turning to Rtd Maj-Gen Bonyongwe, President Mugabe said: "I hope you are ready. It's a new area."
His remarks were in apparent reference to Rtd Maj-Gen Bonyongwe's long background in the intelligence services where he used to work in secrecy as Director-General for the Central Intelligence Organisation. VP Mphoko also shared lighter moments with the new ministers that left everyone laughing. In a joke directed to the new Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, VP Mphoko said: "Bonyongwe hwuDG hwaenda. Ndakanganwa kuuya neshamhu yangu yekurovesa manyunyu."
Speaking to journalists after the swearing in ceremony, the new ministers pledged to work hard and deliver the expected results. Minister Bonyongwe, a qualified lawyer, said: "It is my hope that I will be able to make some positive contributions to the country, and it is something that has always motivated me. I left Zimbabwe in 1975 at age 15 to join the liberation struggle and since then, I have always done what the party and the leadership directed me to do.
"So I was in the struggle and after that I joined the army at independence. I did that until I was directed to go to join the President's Department - that is what I have always been doing and this now has come about. I have once again been directed to go the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. So I have moved as a directive, a deployment from the leadership and therefore I look at it from that context, and I will go to Justice and do my best in moving my country forward."
Minister Mabuwa said: "I know that a lot of work has been done and a lot of work still needs to be done. My predecessors did a lot of work. It's about taking the baton stick and not stopping but moving to the next level. We are aiming for the finishing line. It's not about comparing and saying this person was doing what and I am going to do that. They have given me a baton stick and I am happy that I have been given the baton stick by a motivated young man who was running the Ministry. I ought to remove some of my years and be young in order to fit into his shoes."
Minister Mbembwe, who took over from Engineer Walter Mzembi who was redeployed to the Foreign Affairs portfolio, said: "I see this as an honour to serve my country as appointed by His Excellency, the President. My work is very clear and I will continue to work to ensure that Zimbabwe remains on the global map as the destination of choice for tourists as well as an investment destination. " Minister Mbwembwe said his predecessor had raised the bar in promoting tourism, adding that he would be equal to the task at hand. Dr Chimedza said his first priority was to unite Masvingo province, which had been widely perceived as a problematic province politically.
"I think in the short term it's important to unite the people of Masvingo. I think it's something that can be done. Once we work together with unity of purpose, the second phase is to make sure that development happens in Masvingo. In the medium term that we develop the province, people see value in the leadership of the province and also it's important to realise and understand that we have one President in the country and we align to the same. Loyalty is important to the President."