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New cabinet’s calibre questionable

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s new cabinet will only be able to deliver on its promises if competent people are appointed to key positions within the different ministries, analysts have said.

BY PATRICE MAKOVA

They said while there has been an outcry on the qualifications of some of the cabinet members as they have failed in the past, it was inadequate to judge the performance of a whole ministry on the basis of individual ministers.

But other analysts maintained that there was little hope that the new cabinet would perform “miracles”, as some of the ministers were no longer energetic due to old age, while others were only interested in enriching themselves.

Oxford University lecturer, Phil-lan Zamchiya said while there has been so much “hullaballoo” about individuals cabinet members, ministers were political figures and appointees.

He said it was Mugabe’s prerogative to appoint ministers of his choice from the elected MPs.

Zamchiya said the ability of the new cabinet to deliver would not be determined by individual ministers, but the whole governance structures which include permanent secretaries, principal directors and deputy ministers.

“Let us not be blinded by looking at individual ministers. They are part of the puzzle, but merely as figureheads,” he said.

“The permanent secretaries and principal directors will in fact be driving public policies, while ministers will just give political direction.”

Zamchiya said deputy ministers would also be part of the matrix and work towards ensuring government delivers.

He said a number of newly appointed deputy ministers were technocrats and could complement their bosses who might be old and less skilled.

Zamchiya cited Zanu PF politburo member and deputy minister of Energy and Power development Munacho Mutezo, who is an engineer by profession.

Mutezo deputises another Zanu PF politburo member, Dzikamai Mavhaire who has been in the “wilderness” for decades now after he was booted as Masvingo provincial governor.

Other notable technocrats and so-called “Young Turks” appointed deputy ministers include journalist Supa Mandiwanzira (Media and Information), Paul Chimedza (Health), Biggie Matiza (Local Government), Fred Moyo (Mines) and Win Mlambo (ICT).

Zamchiya said Mugabe’s chief secretary, Misheck Sibanda has already outlined to the new ministers, the government’s socio-economic blueprint which will guide them for the next five years.

He said one does not need a university degree to be a State President, simply the vote of the people.

“You just need to surround yourself with competent people,” said the Oxford University fellow. “Look at President Jacob Zuma of South Africa. He has no formal training but has surrounded himself with some of the best minds in that country. Zuma has thus done fairly well in terms of performance.”

But University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Shakespear Hamauswa differed with Zamchiya.

He said while cabinet ministers worked with qualified staff members, they were the fall guys if government failed to deliver.

Hamauswa said Mugabe should have struck a balance when he appointed his cabinet.

“You need both veteran politicians and technocrats who have the confidence of the international community, and can easily come up with strategies that can revitalise the economy,” he said.

Hamauswa said while some politicians could be good at mobilising people, they could be clueless when it came to running technical portfolios such as Energy, Climate Change, Finance and Industry.
He said by appointing Young Turks as deputy ministers, Mugabe was already looking ahead to 2018 elections.

“These deputy ministers are already being groomed for full ministerial positions. For the next five years they have to prove themselves, while also at the same time getting the necessary political experience,” said Hamauswa.

Notable appointments to cabinet include Patrick Chinamasa (Finance), Joseph Made (Agriculture), Walter Chidhakwa (Mines), Francis Nhema (Indigenisation), Jonathan Moyo (Media), Mike Bimha (Industry), Obert Mpofu (Transport), Lazarus Dokora (Primary and Secondary Education) and David Parirenyatwa (Health).

The new cabinet has to tackle corruption and an unemployment rate of over 80%, as well as revive industries and restore decaying infrastructure.

It also has to provide basic services such as health, education, water and electricity.

CABINET TO IMPROVE ZANU PF’S BALANCE SHEET — cizc

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) executive director, Macdonald Lewanika said whereas people expected a cabinet to enhance the country’s economic fortunes, what they got were ministers “adept at improving their own and Zanu PF’s balance sheet”.

“It is apparent from the foregoing that the cabinet has also been used as part of a reward system that only entrenches Zanu PF’s patronage system,” he said.

He said CiZC’s view was that, depending on who would be chosen, it would indicate whether the government, would, in terms of the transition, regress, stagnate or move towards further reform and consolidation of some of the positive gains from the GNU period.

“The cabinet, as announced by Mugabe, is symbolic of the oxymoronic situation where the way forward is stated as being backwards,” said Lewanika.

“The new cabinet’s resemblance to the retrogressive, economy wrecking, freedom arresting war cabinet of 2002 is striking, both in terms of key actors and the politics represented.”

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