EDITORIAL COMMENT: New Cabinet has potential to turn around the economy

The Chronicle

Our people rarely agree politically but they appear to have over the figures that President Mnangagwa appointed into his Cabinet yesterday.

He brought in new faces and a few surprises, youths, added more technocrats to those who were already in the previous team while retaining some veterans. It is a 20-member Cabinet which features six women, one of whom, Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, will head the influential Ministry of Defence and War Veterans. Overall it is indeed a fresher team which should assist him in driving his vision for an economically prosperous, corruption-free country by 2030.

Probably the President’s most interesting appointment was that of Professor Mthuli Ncube, an internationally respected banker as the Minister of Finance and Economic Development. Retired swimmer and Olympian, Kirsty Coventry is a fitting pick for the Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation portfolio as that of Dr Obediah Moyo as Minister of Health and Child Care.

In addition to Prof Ncube, Ms Coventry and Dr Moyo, other new faces are Dr Sekai Nzenza who will serve as Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister and Cde Mangaliso Ndlovu the new Industry and Commerce Minister.

President Mnangagwa retained Professors Amon Murwira and Paul Mavima as Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, and Primary and Secondary Education ministers, respectively.

Dr Joram Gumbo, who served as Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister in the previous Cabinet, was deployed to the Energy and Power Development portfolio. Cde Kazembe Kazembe was moved from Youth, Sport and Culture to Information Communication Technology and Courier Services. Cde Winston Chitando returns as Mines and Mining Development Minister. Cdes Ziyambi Ziyambi and Sithembiso Nyoni retained the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Ministries in that order. Cde Joel Biggie Matiza has served as Deputy Minister of Local Government and until recently, was Provincial Affairs Minister for Mashonaland East. He takes up the Transport and Infrastructural Development Ministry. About 11 of the ministers can be counted as technocrats.

With respect to deputy ministers, basically all of them are youthful. Those that stand out not only for their youth but also important skills are Cde Energy Mutodi, who will deputise Cde Mutsvangwa, Cde Raj Modi (Industry and Commerce), Cde Vangelis Haritatos (Lands, Agriculture, Water, Culture and Rural Resettlement) and Cde Fortune Chasi (Transport and Infrastructural Development).

Five women were appointed Ministers of Provincial Affairs, with one province, Harare, yet to get a minister. Only one of them, Cde Abednico Ncube (Matabeleland South) was retained.

President Mnangagwa posted on his Facebook page: “Today, as promised, I appointed a diverse, dynamic, youthful and streamlined Cabinet with the skills and experience required to achieve our goals. Now it is time to get to work.”

He indeed nailed it.

As pointed out earlier, Prof Ncube is an inspired appointment. He has experience in finance and development at a very high level not only as a lecturer at some of the world’s respected universities but also in industry. He was recently chief economist and vice-president at the African Development Bank and managing director and head of Quantum Global Research Lab in Switzerland.

On the local market many years ago, Prof Ncube founded and ran Barbican, an asset management firm that he grew into a bank. He therefore carries a name that is known in the world’s financial capitals.

He is well known in business circles and is expected to use the connections he has built over the years to steer the economy to middle income status in the next 12 years. Ms Coventry’s reputation is well-known in the sports fraternity at the world stage.

Many will know how passionate she is about her country, a quality she highlighted even at the pinnacle of her swimming career. She could have easily ditched her Zimbabwean citizenship to compete at the Olympics and other big international platforms for Britain or the United States to be paid handsomely for that. Many Africans have done that.

Mo Farah was born in Somalia but competed and won medals for Britain. Dozens upon dozens of the world’s top footballers were born in Africa but chose to raise the flags of their adopted countries in the West. However, Coventry stuck with the local passport.

Before his appointment as minister yesterday, Dr Obediah Moyo was instrumental in making Chitungwiza Hospital a reputable public health institution at a time when many government-owned hospitals are synonymous with poor service and crumbling infrastructure. Through his work, we saw the hospital assisting many people access quality health services, among them the late Cephas Mashakada.

Cde Chitando, who is also a technocrat, should continue doing well in the Mines and Mining Development Ministry. The industry welcomed him with interest when he took up the post for the first time last year. We expect him to continue on that path in an industry that should drive the growth of the economy going forward.

Prof Murwira has similarly excelled, bringing very new ideas and approaches to tertiary education. The President has confidence in him, as many Zimbabweans do.

With this team, President Mnangagwa has united national opinion and brought hope that the economy will turn around in the shortest possible time.