The appointment of Stephen Nkomo as resident minister for Matebeleland South has left most people baffled. Nkomo is a deputy minister and a deputy minister can never act as a minister even in the absence of his or her boss but this is exactly what Nkomo is doing.
All of Nkomo’s counterparts, Simbi Mubako for Masvingo, Emmerson Mnangagwa for the Midlands, Enos Chikowore for Mashonaland West, Moven Mahachi for Manicaland, John Nkomo for Matebeleland North, Sydney Sekeramayi for Mashonaland Central and David Karimanzira for Mashonaland East are all substantive ministers making him the odd one out.
This has been a unique problem Matebeleland South has faced from independence. None of the members from that province have held a cabinet post. One argument might be that it has always been treated as part of the larger Matebeleland but Mashonaland, which some argue should be made one province, has three resident ministers.
It is in fact over represented as it holds the lion’s share in the present ZANU-PF cabinet resulting in many labelling the present cabinet a Zezuru-dominated cabinet with sprinklings of the Karanga. The other best represented tribal group seems to be the Manyika.
President Mugabe’s appointment of Stephen Nkomo seems to reflect the strong feeling among the people that there should be tribal as well as regional balance within his cabinet. This is strongly opposed by those who have benefited from the Zezuru dominance of the government.
While leaders often speak against regionalism and tribalism, this has been a fact of life with strong reports of a committee of 21 later to grow into a committee of 26 meant to ensure Zezuru dominance in the ruling clique rather than letting the best people do the job.
It is perhaps the glaring under representation of people of Matebeleland South that makes calls for proportional representation more acceptable as it gives the electorate a sense of having their persons in government rather than with the government.