Hope revived as Mnangagwa swings axe

Cabinet appointments anywhere in the world are by their nature highly-contested and emotive affairs — because virtually all politicians think they are Cabinet material, while ordinary citizens harbour different criteria with regards to the ideal qualities for such appointments.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa
President Emmerson Mnangagwa

On that score, President Emmerson Mnangagwa must be applauded for a creditable first shot at putting together a decent team yesterday, which many neutrals agree is a massive improvement on former leader Robert Mugabe’s teams.

It is indeed to Mnangagwa’s credit that he wielded the axe sharply, dumping much of the deadwood that had for decades been part of Mugabe’s worn-out furniture, while also moving to significantly reduce the size of the previously bloated Cabinet team.

And it was certainly brave of him to take the key Defence portfolio away from his influential deputy Constantino Chiwenga — under whose superintendency the military shot dead at least six civilians earlier this month when post-election riots erupted in Harare.

This is not to apportion blame on Chiwenga in any way — moreso since a commission of enquiry is to look into these killings — but simply to acknowledge the fact that the VP was in charge of that ministry when this happened.

To that extent, it is only right to take the heat off Chiwenga by putting some distance between him and that portfolio. After all, constitutional experts had highlighted that it was illegal for a VP to be also Defence minister. Many Zimbabweans were also pleased by the effort that Mnangagwa put into appointing fresh, credible faces into portfolios such as Finance and Sport.

Who indeed, would think at this point that former swimming sensation Kirsty Coventry and highly-regarded banker Mthuli Ncube are not a significant improvement on Mugabe’s deadwood?

While former Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa had tried his best as Treasury chief, it was time to try new hands in this portfolio given the country’s worsening economic climate.

Other bigwigs who rightly fell by the wayside include Mike Bimha, Josiah Hungwe, Simon Khaya Moyo, Webster Shamu, Obert Mpofu, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, David Parirenyatwa, Supa Mandiwanzira, Petronella Kagonye, Martin Dinha, Angeline Masuku, Owen Ncube and David Musabayana.

But to be clear, the good work that Mnangagwa has done with these appointments is only a start. Much more hard work remains for him ahead if he is to turn around the nearly 40-year legacy of ruinous rule by Mugabe and Zanu PF. Daily News