That President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s first cabinet was going to have some cronyism was expected. Loyalty points were always going to be handed out to the military and to party allies.
However, what has horrified many is Mnangagwa’s failure to balance that urge to reward loyalty with at least some show of commitment to the reforms he has promised.
Mnangagwa had raised hopes after his well-received inauguration speech, and his pledges to weed out corruption and to run a “lean” government.
But his cabinet has squandered all the goodwill he had generated, and cheered the critics who had said he was no different from the man he ousted. There are some good, bad and ugly things in his Cabinet.
Winston Chitando as Mines Minister is perhaps the brightest spot on a dismal Cabinet list. Until his appointment, he was executive chairman of Mimosa, one of Zimbabwe’s largest mining firms. He is also current chairman of Hwange Colliery, and was the president of the Chamber of Mines between 2011 and 2013.
The industry will be happy to see one of their own finally take charge of the ministry, which up to now had in recent years been led by ministers who had strained relations with mines.
Patrick Chinamasa is back as Finance Minister. It is not a popular choice among the public, given his role in the cash crunch by issuing billions of Treasury Bills and electronic dollars. The public was anxious to see the back of him.
But we are keen to see what Chinamasa does now that he is free of Robert Mugabe’s shackles. Mnangagwa is keen to re-engage with international funders, and he has obviously appointed Chinamasa to continue his reform plan, which had gone cold. Chinamasa is unpopular with the masses, but well regarded by development partners.
Mnangagwa also likely considered that Chinamasa had already covered much ground in preparing the 2018 budget, which will be presented in a just week. This made chances of a new Finance Minister unlikely.
With Mugabe gone, Chinamasa has no excuses now on his planned reforms. Terence Mukupe, a former CEO of the local arm of investment bank Renaissance Capital, is his deputy. Mukupe, an MP, is tainted by claims, which he denied, of smuggling fuel.
July Moyo is now Local Government Minister. He is Mnangagwa’s senior strategist, and was never going to be left out in the dishing out of loyalty points. In 2011, Moyo was contracted by the new government of South Sudan to build its local government structures from scratch.
That experience may be useful. However, that Mnangagwa left the redundant Provincial Ministers in place does not point to the radical change in local governance that is needed.
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