Tsvangirai in dramatic cabinet appointments, knicks Mutambara's MP

HARARE – MORGAN Tsvangirai made two dramatic appointments to the Cabinet on Tuesday, naming an MP from a rival MDC faction as Water Resources Development Minister and appointing Roy Bennett as Deputy Minister for Agriculture.

Abednico Bhebhe is the MP for Nkayi North and drew the ire of his party leader Arthur Mutambara when he voted against the party’s candidate, Paul Themba Nyathi, in elections for Speaker of Parliament. Bhebhe voted for the Tsvangirai MDC’s pick, Lovemore Moyo.

The MP has been largely ostracised by his party, which has 10 MPs and 6 Senators in Parliament. He has been warned he could be fired from the party, and replaced as MP.

Tsvangirai’s appointment of Bennett, a former white commercial farmer from Chimanimani who is bitterly loathed in Zanu PF circles, sets the stage for confrontation with the Agriculture Minister, who will come from President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party.

Bennett was jailed for eight months in 2004 after pushing former Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa to the floor during a debate in parliament. He fled the country in 2006 to live in South Africa after he was implicated in an alleged plot to kill Mugabe. He only returned to Zimbabwe two weeks ago when prospects of a power sharing government brightened.

Prominent Harare lawyer Eric Matinenga was named Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, making him the key man to lead constitutional reforms which must be concluded within two years.

Giles Mutsekwa, a retired army major and MP for Dangamvura and Chikanga, will take charge of the Home Affairs portfolio. Zanu PF will also appoint a Home Affairs Minister, and the two men must find a way of working together in joint charge of the ministry which is responsible for the police.

Tsvangirai also named Tendai Biti as Finance Minister, a key post. Biti must lead a new regime of financial prudence which will attract outside investment and unlock financial support for the power sharing government from a sceptical West.

Nelson Chamisa, the MDC’s national spokesman assumes the Information and Communications Technology Ministry. The ministry is in charge of the posts and telecommunications sector. Chamisa will be expected to pursue an ambitious programme of computerising the country’s schools, the courts, all government offices and the creation of a police database.

Other appointments:

MINISTERS:

Public Service – Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro

Science and Technology Development – Professor Heneri Dzinotyiwei

Energy and Power Development – Elias Mudzuri

State Enterprises and Parastatals – Eddie Cross

Health – Dr Henry Madzorera

Public Works – Theresa Makone

Social Welfare – Paurine Mpariwa

Economic Planning and Investment – Elton Mangoma

DEPUTY MINISTERS:

Agriculture – Roy Bennett

Defence – Dr Tichaona Mudzingwa

Justice – Jessie Majome

Tsvangirai will appoint a further three deputy ministers after consultations with Mugabe