WORK is cut out for the new Cabinet as President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration bids to deliver, despite the existence of the old guard which has failed in the past.
By FIDELITY MHLANGA
Last week, Mnangagwa appointed a 21-member Cabinet, 11 ministers of State and two deputies to drive his vision of charting a new path for the economy, following years in the doldrums.
On his inauguration, Mnangagwa set the tone, saying the era of business as usual approach was long gone.
Analysts say the Cabinet has to stem red tape and stamp out corruption, to signal a new shift in the way government conducts its business.
While Zimbabwe moved two places up the ladder on the ease of doing business to 159 from 161, according to the World Bank’s 2018 report, it is still ranked below other sub-Saharan Africa economies, which include Mauritius (25) Rwanda (41), Kenya (80), Botswana (81) and South Africa (82), analysts have said.
Economist Clemence Machadu said the new ministers know that they will be shown the exit door if they don’t perform well, as this may also jeopardise the ruling Zanu PF party chances of winning elections next year.
“President Mnangagwa has set the right tone for his Cabinet and everyone knows that it cannot be business as usual. The ministers are, therefore, likely to also crack the whip on their subordinates to perform. So from where I stand, it’s really not about the faces, but the new spirit that is being inculcated to carry the new vision,” he said.
“If President Mnangagwa converts his words into concrete action, the bureaucracy in government can be chased right to the gates of hell in no time. However, there is also need to upgrade government’s human resources systems to ensure that they promote productivity and enhance accountability.”
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer, Christopher Mugaga weighed in, saying the new Cabinet must look at growing the private sector, adding that the privatisation of loss-making parastatals should be finalised.
“What makes this Cabinet a success is to listen to the concerns of private sector because we want it to be bigger than the public sector. Also it depends on who is going to preside over parastatals. The President should appoint good technocrats to lead parastatals. He must nip in the bud the culture of cronyism. He must wean off parastatals. If he commercialises them, they have a capacity of declaring a $1 billion dividend a year,” he said.
Mugaga added that there must be no sacred cows when dealing with corruption.
However, former Finance minister, Tendai Biti said the new Cabinet was not inspiring confidence in the market.
“It has been a complete disappointment with the recycling of tired people. It consists of individuals who are old. Why do you expect Obert Mpofu (Minister of Home Affairs), Patrick Chinamasa (Minister of Finance) and Sithembiso Nyoni (Women Affairs minister) to be Cabinet ministers? That’s why Zimbabweans are not happy. Chinamasa is the author of the government deficit and how then does the killer become the redeemer?” said Biti.
Economist Moses Chundu said the market reacted to the new line up with mixed feelings, largely arising from the fact that citizens expected an inclusive Cabinet and or an all-new outfit.
“Whilst it’s true that there has been largely a recycling of ‘dead wood’, one needs to understand the fact that the President is first a politician before he is head of government and in the process there is a balancing act that he has to play which does not allow one to always adopt an optimal solution,” Chundu said.
“This is the reason you might have seen unexpected characters in the line-up, to the disappointment of expectant citizens.
But in politics if you want to successfully manage transitions; you need to master the art of managing what are called elite spoilers.”
He said Mnangagwa had cut the size of the Cabinet through consolidating the old ministries and appointed technocrats. Chundu said the success of Mnangagwa’s team “largely depends on his management style”.
“If he is consistent as a man of his word especially on the anti-corruption drive, you will be surprised what the same team can achieve. What needed to change was the culture of governance without which even the new players are bound to fail,” Chundu said.