By Bridget Mananavire
HARARE – President Robert Mugabe is expected to announce a new Cabinet anytime now tasked with rescuing Zimbabwe’s faltering economy which had shown signs of improvement during the transitional government.
Mugabe, 89, now Africa’s oldest leader was sworn in for his seventh term in Harare on Thursday — bringing to an end the four-year life of an inclusive government formed to stabilise the country after the bloody and disputed 2008 polls.
The veteran Zanu PF leader now has the tough task of choosing a team of ministers expected to come with policies that build on gains recorded during the inclusive government as well as reducing the country’s debt.
While the country is anxious to know the new team, Mugabe has a serious headache of how to balance ethnic, gender and blending experience with young turks who won the July 31 polls.
Most of Mugabe loyalists, some who have been part of both the “war” and “dead” Cabinets, were re-elected.
Out of the previous officials who held ministerial posts, only Joseph Made failed to win in his constituency — meaning in his selection, Mugabe will have to juggle issues of rewarding loyalty and building confidence of the emerging crop which triumphed last month.
The octogenarian leader will also have to trim his Cabinet from the bloated 42 which was caused by the expanded lists of his party and the two MDC formations which wanted to reward officials with Cabinet posts.
While, both Zanu PF and the MDC have poured cold water on reports that there could be an inclusion of some of Morgan Tsvangirai’s officials in the new Cabinet, Mugabe has not closed the door on that, at least, according to those close to him.
But already faced with trying to appease loyalists and keep Zanu PF intact, Mugabe might find it hard to include MDC officials to his Cabinet for fear of causing fissures in his already fractious party.
Although on one hand he has to appease his comrades, on the other, he has few options to inspire confidence unless he makes a bold statement by appointing technocrats and young turks whose decisions he will respect.
This is why he has an unenviable task of coming up with a confidence and performance-fancied cabinet.
Among those that are likely to be retained are Savior Kasukuwere, Francis Nhema, Obert Mpofu, Nicholas Goche, Olivia Muchena and Sylvester Nguni.
Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa is likely to remain in his portfolio, including Sydney Sekeramayi, Sithembiso Nyoni, Kembo Mohadi, Ignatius Chombo, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Patrick Chinamasa, Walter Mzembi and Webster Shamu.
It is likely that Didymus Mutasa, Herbert Murerwa and Made will not be coming back.
Murerwa had major surgery which kept him out of work for a considerable time and this could militate against him, given the pressures likely to be facing the new ministers.
Among those expected to form the new Cabinet are Supa Mandiwanzira, July Moyo, Paul Chimedza, Daniel Shumba, Dexter Nduna, Oppah Muchinguri, Monica Mutsvangwa, Daniel McKenzie Ncube, Temba Mliswa, Kindness Paradza and Arthur Mutambara.
Mugabe will likely appoint four outsiders, technocrats, from the remaining quota of the permitted five non-constituent MPs after naming Mutambara.
Business and international investors are sceptical of Mugabe’s policies and pin hopes on a new transformative Cabinet.
The stock market nosedived, losing more than $1 billion the week Mugabe was announced winner of the polls which were marred by serious allegations of vote rigging.
It, marginally recorded gains on Wednesday ahead of Mugabe’s inauguration.
Mugabe, however, has vowed to deliver, calming the jittery business community and promising his government will bring friendly promises.
“There are key truths that come with that victory, which come with that honour. The peasant, who cast his vote on July 31, created my victory and thus made a portion of my presidency. I am at his service, am his emissary and servant,” said Mugabe in his acceptance speech as he promised delivery on his election promises.
The former guerrilla leader promised to fulfil the dreams of millions of the unemployed, struggling farmers, and also allayed fears of the business community that was rattled by his 61 percent landslide.
Underpinning his revival plans on the mining sector, he said the sector “will be the centrepiece of our economic recovery and growth.”
With power comes responsibility, and Zanu PF promised to deliver water to cities, jump start the industrial sector and also to provide adequate power supply in order to fuel the envisaged growth.
He also vowed to plod ahead with his economic empowerment policy, which forces foreign firms to cede 51 percent shareholding to local blacks. Daily News