OPPOSITION parties and analysts have rubbished President Robert Mugabe’s Cabinet reshuffle, saying “recycling deadwood” will not be helpful in efforts to revive the collapsing economy.
By Staff Reporters
Mugabe on Monday reshuffled his Cabinet, decimating a faction within Zanu PF reportedly loyal to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
He reassigned Patrick Chinamasa and Obert Mpofu from Finance and Macroeconomic Planning and replaced them with Ignatius Chombo and Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, respectively.
The six new ministers are Happyton Bonyongwe (Justice), Chiratidzo Mabuwa (Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment), Edgar Mbwembwe (Tourism and Environment), Webster Shamu (Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs), Paul Chimedza (Masvingo Provincial Affairs) and Thokozile Mathuthu (Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs).
But opposition parties said Mugabe’s reshuffle seemed to deal with internal Zanu PF power dynamics and would not improve the country’s economic fortunes.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said the Cabinet reshuffle was primarily targeted at ensuring that Zanu PF wins the 2018 elections by hook or by crook besides “pruning Mnangagwa’s influence within the State machinery”.
“He (Mugabe) will do whatever it takes to control and muzzle social media in order to suppress public discontent against his corrupt regime,” he said.
“This is why Chinamasa, an intolerant and temperamental fascist himself, has been tasked to head the newly-created Cyber-security ministry.”
War veterans’ leader Christopher Mutsvangwa rubbished Mugabe’s reshuffle, saying it was not going to change anything as no one in the G40 faction had that capacity to turn around the economy.
“Chombo has failed to woo investors as Local Government minister. We advise him that he should go to the centres of capital such as New York, London, Mumbai, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Moscow and Johannesburg, where investors have excess capital to invest,” he said.
People’s Democratic Party spokesperson Jacob Mafume said: “April fool’s [day] comes every month for this man [Mugabe]. If it was in our family, we would be asking our ancestors for assistance.
National People’s Party secretary-general Gift Nyandoro dismissed the reshuffle as nothing, but a crackdown against Mnangagwa’s faction.
“The exercise has nothing to do with economic deliverables, but establishing of a loyal and submissive bootlicking team to his (Mugabe’s) ever shouting wife and, hence, the surprise package of ‘Cremora’ Webster Shamu.
“To suggest that the reshuffle has anything to do with performance would require such proponents to tell Zimbabweans the economic deliverables of the Ministry of Psychomotor Skills and Ignatius Chombo, who headed Home Affairs.”
Alliance for the People’s Agenda (APA) leader Nkosana Moyo said the reshuffle was an exercise in futility, as it recycled people who had presided over the demise of the country’s economy for the past 30 years.
“APA reiterates its position that a small and merit-based government will be the starting point of economic recovery,” the party said. APA said if elected into power, it would abolish the deputy ministers position and appoint young ministers under the age of 35 to make decisions.
The Welshman Ncube-led MDC said the reshuffle was a strategy to steal votes in the 2018 election.
“The sinister motives of the so-called reshuffle is evidenced by the appointment of CIO [Central Intelligence Organisation] boss Happyton Bonyongwe into the Justice ministry, which by one stroke, has reduced the courts and other vital public institutions into CIO projects,” party spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said.
“Additionally, the creation of a whole new bogus ministry, the Ministry of Cyber-security, Threat Detection and Mitigation, whose sole purpose is to clamp down on the free flow of information on social media, signals a whole new level of desperation by President Mugabe.”
Economist Prosper Chitambara rubbished the reshuffle, saying changes in the economic cluster were shocking.
“They (new appointees) have no known history in macroeconomics or finance. The changes can only work if Chombo and Mumbengegwi are humble, teachable and eager to listen to divergent views from other stakeholders and incorporate them in their policies,” he said.
Chitambara said the duo’s relationship with business and labour would prove critical to their success.
Political analyst Alex Magaisa was shocked by Chombo and Mumbengegwi’s appointments to key economic ministries.
“Finance is at the deep end of the pool and while it will certainly expand his (Chombo’s) rent-seeking opportunities, there is not much hope for the average Zimbabwean in his appointment,” he wrote on his blog.
Activist Vivid Gwede said the reshuffle had a factional dimension and had nothing to do with a genuine desire to solve the country’s economic problems. “For the likes of Mnangagwa, it is a rough shuffle rather than a reshuffle,” he quipped.
But Alexander Rusero, another political analyst, said the reshuffle was not about Mnangagwa, but balancing power between factions for the veteran leader’s advantage.
“It is not much about grounding Mnangagwa, it is about balance of power by neutralising a faction that was stronger and threatening his position,” he said.
“For Mnangagwa, he is still in the game. Former Vice-President Joice Mujuru was dropped with a bunch of her followers, but Mnangagwa was not.”