PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe last week retained the oldguard in his inclusive-government cabinet in what political analysts said is a sign that the party has a leadership-renewal challenge.
The analysts said it was clear that there was a paucity of the younger generation of political leaders in Zanu PF.
Mugabe appointed Emmerson Mnangagwa (Defence), Didymus Mutasa (Presidential Affairs), Sydney Sekeramayi (National Security), Stan Mudenge (Higher Education), Ignatius Chombo (Local Government), Kembo Mohadi (Home Affairs), Nicholas Goche (Transport), Sithembiso Nyoni (SMEs), Joseph Made (Agriculture), Simbarashe Mumbengegwi (Foreign Affairs), Francis Nhema (Environment) and Patrick Chinamasa (Justice and Legal Affairs).
Others are Herbert Murerwa (Lands), Obert Mpofu (Mines), Webster Shamu (Information) and Walter Mzembi (Tourism).
Ministers from Zanu PF joined their colleagues from the Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara MDC formations in a 35-member cabinet that took the oath of office last Friday.
Tsvangirai is the prime minister in the inclusive government with Mutambara and Thokozani Khupe deputising him.
The appointment of ministers who were in the last cabinet dissolved in February 2008, according to the analysts, is a serious indictment of Mugabe who last August said it was the worst government he had ever had since Independence in 1980.
“This cabinet that I had was the worst in history,” Mugabe said last August. “They look at themselves. They are unreliable.”
Over the years, Mugabe has shuttled ministers like Mnangagwa, Mutasa, Sekeramayi, Mudenge, Murerwa and Chombo from one ministry to another and also into positions as governors and Speakers of parliament.
The same ministers have presided over a government that saw the spiralling of inflation before partial dollarisation of the economy last October, unemployment of over 90%, punitive interest rates, poor health and education delivery systems and increasing poverty. ]
Alex Magaisa, a Zimbabwean lawyer based in the UK, said Mugabe’s appointment of the old guard reflected the state of political evolution in Zanu PF, essentially that the fittest who have survived since Independence “naturally maintain their position at the top of the food-chain”.
He said Zanu PF lacked a younger generation that has taken charge of the party.
“As such, those who have always been there remain in the positions of authority,” Magaisa pointed out. “You have to remember also that this is about trust and loyalty.
For the first time in more than 20 years, Mugabe is getting into bed with two new partners. Looking at it from his own perspective, he is better off having trusted lieutenants by his side, as opposed to having a completely new team of ministers whose loyalty may be less than 100%.”
The analysts said Mugabe had gone along with the “old, trusted comrades” because he trusts them to stand by him, come rain or shine.
University of Zimbabwe political science professor John Makumbe agreed with Magaisa adding that if there was a leadership crisis in Zanu PF, it was that as a party it has not allowed itself sufficient renewal to create a new and visible generation of leaders.
“When you look round the party, there are very few, if any, visible leaders from the younger generation,” Makumbe said.
“He is probably unsure about the opportunism and voracious appetite of the younger members of his party and for that reason he opted to go for loyalty and trust which he finds among his comrades from his days in Mozambique. They understand him and he understands them.”
He said because of the unprecedented crisis in the country, Mugabe had no choice but to turn for salvation to the “same tired” faces.
“All the people who are critical of Zanu PF must also take responsibility for not participating in the party with a view to diluting the influence of history on the future of the country,” wrote Zimbabwean-born South African businessman Mutumwa Mawere.
“The party’s worldview has been shaped by the past and by framing the current challenge as a colonially generated one it is not surprising that the best defenders of the status quo have to be the very liberation heroes that were instrumental in liberating the country.
The country may have 29 years of experience but in respect of dealing with the colonial injury, the country has not moved.”
He said the recycling of ministers had to be viewed in the context of how Zanu PF had framed the current problems.
“It has refused to accept that part of the challenge may have emanated from wrong or bad policies. It has accepted that sanctions are the real cause of the crisis and, therefore, why change the team when the team is not the problem?” Mawere said.
“The ministers have convinced Mugabe that they are not the problem but have been victims of a white conspiracy.”
Analysts said Zimbabwe’s politics were not based on national interests and, therefore, appointments to cabinet were also not based on the same interests.
They said the old guard in Zanu PF has over the years outflanked the younger generation by hook and by crook.
“The cost and benefits of political engagement within Zanu PF are well known and when daily you see the costs in terms of political harassment and victimisation, no one will be inspired to be involved,” an analyst who asked for anonymity said.
The analyst also argued that Mugabe might have recycled the ministers because of their experience in cabinet so as to maintain balance.
“Mugabe believes in the old adage that experience is the best teacher. He wants to maintain balance in the cabinet by retaining experienced ministers to work with those from the MDC who are not knowledgeable in how a government is run,” the analyst added.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) expressed concern over Mugabe’s decision to appoint the old guard after Mugabe accused the same ministers of inefficiency and greediness.
“The question which now begs an answer is this: why did he allow this worst cabinet in the history of Zimbabwe to continue ruining the country by re-appointing them?” asked ZCTU secretary-general Wellington Chibebe.
BY CONSTANTINE CHIMAKURE