President Robert Mugabe is playing his cards close to the chest as he quietly assembles his long-awaited cabinet.
BY PATRICE MAKOVA
Mugabe, who has a huge pool to choose from after Zanu PF secured a two thirds majority in Parliament, had by yesterday not appointed a cabinet, almost 40 days after winning the July 31 elections.
Sources said Mugabe had indicated that he was not in a hurry to announce his new cabinet as he was keen to do a balancing act in order to please the different factions which helped him win resoundingly against opposition MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.
A senior government official said apart from vice President Joice Mujuru, only his closest aides among them chief secretary to the Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda were in the picture of how the new cabinet was shaping up.
He said although there was intense lobbying for strategic portfolios by the factions within Zanu PF battling to succeed Mugabe, the 89-year-old president has left everyone guessing.
The factions linked to Mujuru and defence minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa were said to be positioning their members for key portfolios, such as Finance, Mines, Defence, Local Government and Indigenisation.
“People may mention all sorts of names as having been given this or that ministry, but this is all speculation as the old man (Mugabe) has kept his cards close to his chest,” he said.
But another senior government official said indications were that Mugabe was likely to announce the cabinet on Tuesday.
“It is not yet clear who will get what ministry, but all we have been told is to expect a lot of surprises. A lot of shifting of ministries will be done,” he said.
He said some former ministers were likely to be re-deployed, including to the party headquarters.
The official said although Mugabe would appoint many of his old guard who have failed in the past, new faces in the form of so called “Young Turks” and some technocrats were being considered as he assembles a cabinet under pressure to deliver.
Political analyst, Shakespear Hamauswa said Mugabe was under pressure to appoint ministers who can deliver.
He said Mugabe needed to strike a balance by rewarding those who helped him, among them war veterans, securocrats, youths, women and intellectuals.
Hamauswa said Mugabe should have appointed an interim finance minister, like what he did before the formation of the Government of National Unity in 2009 when former Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa temporarily assumed that portfolio.
“The supplementary budget will cater for the needs of farmers who are already running around preparing for the onset of the rainy season. Civil servants and students also need urgent attention of the government,” he said.
Presidential spokesperson, George Charamba’s phone was unreachable yesterday.
However names that were being touted for possible appointment as ministers include Mnangagwa himself who is tipped for Finance ministry. Minister of State in Mujuru’s office, Sylvester Nguni is tipped for the Indigenisation and Empowerment ministry previously held by Saviour Kasukuwere. The Mt Darwin MP is tipped for the labour portfolio. Former Mines minister, Obert Mpofu may go back to his old Industry portfolio. Former Tourism minister, Walter Mzembi is being touted as the possible new Mines minister.
Local government minister, Ignatious Chombo is tipped to retain his position. But his loyalists accuse Chombo’s rivals in Zanu PF of a smear campaign to discredit his candidature following allegations raised in court linking him to corrupt land deals in Harare.
Former Tsholotsho North legislator, Jonathan Moyo is tipped to take over the Media and Information ministry from Webster Shamu. The Zanu PF secretary for the commissariat may be deployed full time at party headquarters in order to start preparing for next year’s congress and the 2018 elections. Three medical doctors are fighting for the Health ministry.
These are politburo member David Parirenyatwa, former deputy minister, Douglous Mombeshora and Paul Chimedza. Journalist-cum-politician, Supa Mandiwanzira may land the ICT portfolio, while former Agriculture minister, Joseph Made is tipped to be retained in his previous ministry. Mugabe may however make surprise appointments.
Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo said only Mugabe knew when the new cabinet would be place.
“We are also waiting for him to announce the new cabinet, but I am sure it will be very soon,” he said.