Mugabe appoints nephew empowerment minister

HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe announced his third cabinet reshuffle in less than a year on Friday, appointing his nephew as minister in charge of a government push to give blacks greater control of the economy.

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Patrick Zhuwawo

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Patrick Zhuwawo takes over as Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment in place of Christopher Mushohwe, who assumes the information portfolio.

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Zhuwawo becomes the third person to lead the empowerment ministry since Mugabe and his party won elections in 2013, heading up the drive to force foreign-owned firms, including mines, to sell at least 51 percent of their shares to locals.

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Mugabe rarely reshuffles his cabinet, preferring to stick to close allies, especially those who fought alongside him during Zimbabwe’s 1970s independence war against white-minority rule.

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Last December, the 91-year-old fired his deputy of 10 years, Joice Mujuru, and several ministers aligned to her in what political analysts said was meant to quell simmering tensions over his future successor.

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However, Mujuru’s ejection has not ended tensions within the ruling ZANU-PF party over who will eventually take over from Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s only ruler since independence from Britain in 1980.

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Friday’s cabinet changes saw Mugabe bringing in the ZANU-PF chief whip of 20 years, Joram Gumbo, to the transport ministry, replacing Obert Mpofu, who becomes investment minister.

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Mugabe also named 10 new deputy ministers, some of them close allies of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is now seen as Mugabe’s most likely successor.

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