Zimbabwe: Mnangagwa Appoints Deadwood Cabinet

Photo: The Herald
President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Harare — PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has appointed a new 22-member cabinet full of old Zanu PF faces, loyalists, as well as some officials known for wreaking havoc in their localities and others who can barely walk.

The only prominent faces in cabinet are two military commanders -- Air Force of Zimbabwe commander Perrence Shiri and Zimbabwe National Army Major-General Sibusiso Moyo. War veterans secretary-general Victor Matemadanda is now a deputy minister.

There are no opposition figures and prominent technocrats from outside despite a huge public expectation that cabinet will have new blood, skills and competencies to spearhead Zimbabwe's reform agenda and economic recovery.

New technocrats that were appointed to cabinet who have strong links to Mnangagwa, include former Mimosa Mine chief Winston Chitando (Mines minister), academic Clever Nyathi (Labour and Social Welfare) and Amon Murwira (Higher Education minister).

Most of the cabinet ministers are known Mnangagwa allies who fought in his corner during a fierce battle to succeed long-time leader Robert Mugabe, which culminated in a military intervention.

These include long-time ally July Moyo (Local Government) and Kazembe Kazembe (Sport, Arts and Recreation). SB Moyo, who has been appointed Foreign Affairs minister, ironically publicly announced the military intervention which led to Mugabe's forced exit.

Some of Mnangagwa's loyalists include Owen Ncube who was appointed Minister of State for the Midlands, which is the President's political fiefdom. Ziyambi Ziyambi, another Mnangagwa ally, who faced brickbats from former first lady Grace Mugabe during her whirlwind rallies seeking to push out the new President, has been appointed Justice minister.

The return of Angeline Masuku, who is advanced in age, has come as a surprise as Zanu PF continues to recycle the old guard. She was appointed minister of State for Bulawayo Metropolitan.

"The secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr. M.J.M Sibanda has announced the following categories of ministerial appointments by His Excellency the President, Cde Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, in terms of Section 104, subsection (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe," said Presidential press secretary in a statement issued late last night.

To tackle the country's economic implosion characterised by unemployment levels hovering around 90%, low business activity, rising inflation and a currency crisis, Mnangagwa re-appointed Patrick Chinamasa as Finance minister.

Before succeeding Mugabe, Chinamasa had been appointed to a lesser powerful ministry of Cyber Security.

Firebrand war veterans leader Chris Mutsvanga who was fired by Mugabe as veterans of the liberation war minister is now the new Information minister, taking over from Simon Khaya Moyo who has been reassigned to the Energy ministry.

Another old face from the previous cabinet is that of Obert Mpofu who retains his Home Affairs ministry, while Health minister David Parirenyatwa -- who has been there forever -- will retain his post. Information Communication Technology minister Supa Mandiwanzira, according to the new appointments, will also head his previous portfolio.

Primary education minister Lazarus Dokora, who has in the past faced public criticism due to his unpopular policies, has also retained his portfolio. Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha was also re-appointed to the new cabinet, while Jorum Gumbo will continue to head the Transport ministry.

Former State Security minister Kembo Mohadi is now heading the merged Defence and Veterans ministry, fuelling speculation as to who could be one of Mnangagwa's deputies amid indications that Sydney Sekeramayi and former Zipra intelligence supremo Dumiso Dabengwa or Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda could also be elevated.

Other ministers that have been reassigned from portfolios they had during Mugabe's regime include Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri (Environment, Water and Climate), Sithembiso Nyoni (Women and Youth Affairs), Martin Dinha and Webster Shamhu. Former Economic Planning minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi has been reappointed Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring of Government Programmes.

Zimbabweans on social media reacted with shock after the cabinet was announced as they believed Mnangagwa would break from the past and dump dead wood.

"The honeymoon is over even before it had begun. What a shame. What a missed opportunity," tweeted former finance minister Tendai Biti.

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