Fears that disgruntled members of the ZANU-PF old guard who were to be sacrificed in the cabinet trimming would form another party, or parties, are reported to be the major cause of the delayed cabinet reshuffle.
Insider sources say President Mugabe and his “inner-cabinet” -which is structured to ensure tribal balance despite rhetorical denunciations of tribalism, nepotism and regionalism- had already agreed on a cabinet of 17 including the President and his two deputies, Joshua Nkomo and Simon Muzenda. There were going to be only four deputy ministers.
The inner cabinet is reported to comprise President Mugabe (for Zezuru), Nkomo (for the Ndebele), Muzenda (for the Karanga) and Didymus Mutasa (for the Manyika).
The reshuffle which would have taken place late last year or in early January was also going to see the often-criticised Ministry of Political Affairs scrapped together with other ministries like Information, Scholarships, Regional Cooperation and Sports just to name a few.
The cabinet was going to see a number of the old-guard members of ZANU-PF, now sometimes referred to as the “original ZANU-PF” left in the cold.
Ministers who it had been agreed should be sacrificed, the sources say, were Moven Mahachi, current minister of the powerful Ministry of Home Affairs; Swithun Mombeshora, a long-time deputy elevated to Minister of State on the promotion of Joseph Msika to senior minister, Patrick Chinamasa, the Attorney-General, a post most believe should never have been accorded ministerial rank; and Victoria Chitepo whose ministry is to be scrapped with some reports saying it will be merged with that of Home Affairs while others say its functions may be taken over by Foreign Affairs.
Also going, according to the sources, would have been the controversial Herbert Ushewokunze, current Minister of Energy and Water Resources and Development; Chris Andersen, probably the longest serving minister in the present cabinet since he also served in the former Rhodesian Front cabinet; Joyce Mujuru, the longest serving woman minister currently responsible for Community and Cooperative Development; Enos Chikowore who lost the powerful post in Local Government to take that of Public Construction.
Herbert Murerwa who left his diplomatic post to go into politics was also going to be sacrificed from his present Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the sources say, and so was David Karimanzira who seems to have failed to resolve the University crisis; Simbi Mubako whose dubious Ministry of Regional and International Cooperation should really be a department within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and David Kwidini whose job has virtually been taken over by the Sports commission; Joseph Culverwell who heads a department but is a minister; Felix Muchemwa and Welshman Mabhena who are both with the Ministry of Political Affairs.
Tichaendepi Masaya, the sources said, was going to assume, once again, his rightful post of a deputy together with Gabriel Machinga, Stephen Nkomo and Florence Chitauro. The rest were going to be made redundant and these included all the provincial governors some of whom left rather lucrative professional posts to join Mark Dube, the longest serving governor.
According to these sources the only person who was going to have a dramatic rise was Dumiso Dabengwa who was going to rise from deputy to fully-fledged minister. He was going to join Mutasa, Bernard Chidzero, Nathan Shamuyarira, Sydney Sekeramayi, Emmerson Mnangagwa, Eddison Zvobgo, Richard Hove, Witness Mangwende, John Nkomo, Kumbirai Kangai, Denis Norman, Timothy Stamps and Fay Chung.
Joseph Msika, these sources say, was going to have cabinet rank but was going to work full-time for the party.
This cabinet, although agreed upon by the “inner cabinet”, the sources say, was rejected by members of the regional ZANU-PF as their numbers had been greatly trimmed. Unlike in the present 31-member cabinet where only two ministers each came from Masvingo, Matebeleland North and Midlands, with none from Matebeleland South, six from Manicaland and the rest from Mashonaland, the new set up was going to distribute the portfolios more Evenly -tribally or provincially and there seems to have been a deliberate bias towards this.
But sources say, President Mugabe could not go ahead with the reshuffle because he feared mass desertion from the disgruntled ministers-most of whom were his close associates -as recently happened in Kenya.