President Robert Mugabe on the back of a controversial re-election has defended his much criticised new cabinet claiming the selections were mainly guided by educational qualifications and the balance of provincial representation in Zimbabwe.
“The party which won is Zanu-PF. Are you Zanu-PF? ‘Vanhu vakavhotera Zanu-PF handizvo here? So you must belong to Zanu-PF because that is the wish of the people. And if you belong to Zanu-PF, how much of Zanu-PF are you? Takabva kupi newe tikasvika kupi?
How long have you been with us? Yes, in Zanu-PF hatidi madofo ainzi namai vangu madofo. This is 33 years after independence, tave mumakore eruzivo, technological periods — years of technology.
“How educated are you. Are you just Ordinary level? Ipapa we were able to say just one or two were just O-Level, the rest are degreed. Hameno kuti mungazviwana kupi? Even in Europe, you get all those 24 or 25 degreed people.
“Madzimai, varume the same . . . ane principles dzakanaka. Hunhu hwake tinenge tichihuda. Was he a winner and also respected by his own community kuConstituency kwake?
“What is the standing? It is not everyone who comes out with the same good standing, but you cannot just punish people because of what is being said. Kuti uyu aah ndozviri kutaurwa ane zvakati, zvakati.
“Tinenge tichida kuona kuti are all our provinces represented as much as possible, at least two ministers. Kungaita madeputies zvako kune mamwe, but I think we managed to get about three in a province.”
Mugabe justified the length of time it took him to announce the Cabinet claiming there were some constitutional provisions that needed to be done before the selection of Cabinet.
“Well, people were all these days saying when is the Cabinet going to be set up,” he said. You do not set up the Cabinet until other steps, motions have been gone through. Every member of the Cabinet except five of them or three of them have to be sworn in first. They have to become MPs.
The swearing in took place on Tuesday, so it was only after that had happened that I was now in a position to say these now are valid MPs.
“They are not just people who have been elected, they are elected and now they have had the baptism of Parliament. They therefore can be looked at in terms of whether some of them can be chosen to constitute the Cabinet.
“So that’s the exercise we had to do after people had been sworn on Tuesday and today is Wednesday. So yesterday we set up the Cabinet and today the swearing in.”
These remarks are however in stark contrast to Mugabe’s statements in the run up to the elections when he claimed those who lost elections and did not become MP’s would not make it into cabinet.
President Mugabe said the new Cabinet would drive the country for the next five years based on policies enunciated in the Zanu-PF manifesto.
“The political aspect is that these now are the team that should lead Government into action along the policies that had been stipulated by the party which has won elections from whom these derive.
“The programme of Government therefore for the next five years would be a programme of continuing some of the work that the previous one left and done but still requiring to be finished. That has got to be done and therefore we would expect that our ministers look at their portfolios, examine what the previous ministries were doing, what was accomplished, what was not accomplished.
“But I would want to say that our emphasis will not just be on continuing what was left undone, but it will be on our programmes as envisaged by us and expressed by us in our manifesto. We will need to revive some of the institutions and establishments that the previous Government left to go into oblivion or neglected.
Obviously, I am aware that we were not at one within that Government in terms of policy, outlook and ideology.
“Therefore things did not go well all the time where for example, we wanted assistance given to industries, to factories, companies that we rely upon for production, this was not done in some cases whatever was done was very little, not adequate to enable those establishment really on viable grounds and so we will look at that.”
President Mugabe said the new Government would look at what needed to be done on specific sectors as a way of reviving the economy. For instance in agriculture, the President said Government would look at the needs of the farmers and the kind of assistance they required.
“And assistance is not an act of generosity – is an act of facilitating the farmers to do business. There are facilities which farmers can rely on using their own capacities now to do business – to be productive. The financial aspect for example, financial system, financial institutions the banks are they liquid enough?
Are they also financial fronts that are enablers to our farmers? We have got to discuss this with the financial institutions.
“Money must not be unnecessarily expensive. Interest rates have to come down to levels that are affordable but we also must ensure that the institutions are liquid enough so that they can carry out that function of lending to agriculture.
We know that loans to agriculture are never long term loans but short term –seasonal and we would want to see more production tobacco, soya beans and maize,” he said adding that livestock should also been taken care of and farmers in that area assisted and given direction by extension officers.
Most analysts on Tuesday described Mugabe’s cabinet as a disaster, after the veteran leader retained most of his loyalists who have been blamed for bringing the economy down over the past three decades.
Philip Pasirayi, a political analyst said the new cabinet was nothing short of “jobs for the boys” rather than a team appointed based on merit.
“Instead of change, there is going to be continuity of the same policies that have hurt our politics and our economy,” Pasirayi said.
“Most of the people who have been brought back to Cabinet like Jonathan Moyo, Savior Kasukuwere, Ignatius Chombo and others have nothing new to offer to the people. It is a huge disappointment.”
The director of Centre for Community Development said the only positive thing about the new administration was the demotion of former Transport minister Nicholas Goche and former Mines minister Obert Mpofu and Kasukuwere.
“But the president should have sent a clear signal that corruption will not be tolerated in the new government by excluding some of his ministers who were fingered in corruption in the mining sector, lands, local government and parastatals,” Pasirayi said.