Zimbabwe: Mnangagwa - A Chip Off the Old Block

President Mnangagwa announces the extension of the lockdown at State House in Harare.

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa is following the footsteps of his mentor, the late former president Robert Mugabe in recycling deadwood in cabinet positions, as a key strategy to consolidate his powerbase.

On Monday, Mnangagwa appointed his longtime ally and former minister Fredrick Shava to replace the late Foreign Affairs and International Trade minister, Sibusiso B Moyo, who succumbed to Covid-19 complications last month.

Shava was Zimbabwe's chief diplomat to the United Nations (UN).

Mnangagwa also made other new appointments, including Chikomba Central MP Felix Mhona as the new Transport and Infrastructural Development minister. He replaced the late Joel Biggie Matiza who also died of Covid-19 in January.

Former scribe, Kindness Paradza was named Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services deputy minister, Mike Madiro, Transport and Infrastructural Development deputy minister, Ruth Mavhunga-Maboyi is the Home Affairs deputy minister and Nokhuthula Matsikenyere as Minister of State for Manicaland.

Matsikenyere replaced the late Ellen Gwaradzimba who also died of the coronavirus last month.

Political analysts yesterday said the appointment by Mnangagwa demonstrates that he is stuck in the past.

Commentator Austin Chakaodza said Mnangagwa survived on patronage.

"He (Mnangagwa) is simply following the footsteps of former president Mugabe who was fond of recycling dead wood," he said.

"The most surprising appointment was that of Frederick Shava as minister of Foreign Affairs and International trade. It is instructive to note that Shava has always been the 'golden boy' of President Emmerson Mnangagwa ever since the Willowvale scandal.

"Zimbabwe doesn't need golden boys, but people who have the intellectual capacity to run the affairs of the country. It's unfortunate that the President is failing to pursue his new dispensation agenda with new brains and new blood."

Another political analyst and human rights activist, Okay Machisa said Mnangagwa acted out of lack of options to appoint non-MPs as he has already exhausted five non-constituency legislators.

"What I would need to indicate here is that I am sure we need to understand that the President doesn't have a lot of leeway in terms of appointments. I'm sure you understand there is a certain number that he has to reach to exercise his rights when it comes to appointing non-MP ministers. So if we look at that angle, the President has no much leeway," Machisa said.

He, however, said while Mhona was a new face in cabinet, Shava had a tainted past.

"So he had to dig into the MPs that are already sitting and I think there is new blood. I'm sure they are going to exercise a bit of some changes. You have Kindness Paradza who is coming in from a very good background where journalists will be very happy to interact with him once he occupies the portfolio as deputy minister of Information. You also have minister Mhona there, who is very young. I'm sure these are some of the ministers who are going to do justice to bring fresh ideas in government."

"So if you look at Shava; you see that he is coming from a well exposed background of the diplomatic sector but there are certain things that have erupted here and there in his name."

Mugabe shuffled ministers and kept deadwood as a political strategy to consolidate his powerbase while keeping enemies at bay.

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