By Harry Peter Wilson
Presidnet Emmerson Mnangagwa should not repeat the same mistake he made when he appointed his last Cabinet after former president Robert Mugabe threw in the towel last year.
Concerned Zimbabweans who had for years suffered under Mugabe were hopeful that Mnangagwa would bring fresh brains into his Cabinet but to everyone’s surprise he retained the same old guard that had failed to resuscitate our ailing economy.
At the time, we thought Mnangagwa would be inclusive as Zimbabweans from all walks of life from the opposition, civic society to the ordinary man in the streets had helped him push Mugabe out of office hoping for a change and a better life.
But it wasn’t to be and like his mentor (Mugabe) Mnangagwa took a leaf from the old Zanu PF script of recycling failed but loyal personalities. And from then on you could see dejection from most progressive Zimbabweans who saw no hope at all but just doom.
There were others who gave the old guard the benefit of the doubt but age, pace with the modern way of conducting business failed them and six months down the line little in the positive has been achieved.
The president has to be alert to the fact that his last Cabinet composition nearly cost him his presidency as people no longer trusted his judgment, hence his narrow win against MDC Alliance’s Nelson Chamisa.
Chamisa has been riding on the youth crest and Mnangagwa should not ignore this key factor when appointing his new Cabinet — it has to have lots of young, energetic, educated and highly-skilled personalities in and outside his party.
We have a number of success stories in overseas countries where Zimbabweans are leading big corporates with some having started flourishing businesses there that are professionally and profitably run.
Our new Cabinet has to instil a sense of belief to millions of ordinary Zimbabweans who have borne the brunt of corruption, poverty and hunger.
In Zanu PF itself, the president is spoilt for choice if he chooses his team based on merit and not patronage. He can then blend these with outside talent from the opposition and other outstanding Zimbabweans in civic society and the academia who are apolitical.
Time has come for Mnangagwa to retire some permanent secretaries who have been in the same positions for years because they have been part of the failure — actually these guys run ministries which have been performing dismally.
It would be futile to appoint new ministers without retiring some of the permanent secretaries who have been accused of stifling progress in government and remain untouchable because of the many years that they have worked on one station.
The international community is waiting for the new Cabinet which will signal and stimulate their appetite to invest in Zimbabwe.
The ball is now in Mangagwa’s court and as Zimbabweans who yawn for a better future, we are hopeful that the president will do the right thing and share his big cake with everyone regardless of his or her political affiliation.
We also hope that in choosing his Cabinet, he has also to think about empowering the provinces, hence our everyday call for devolution.
As someone from Matabeleland, I think it is time that the region is empowered and that resources generated here are used to develop our community’s infrastructure from roads, building schools and dams to reviving our dying industries.
As for urban councils, it is important that Mnangagwa appoints a Local Government minister who is sober and professional because all the past ministers were so confrontational to councils because they are controlled by the opposition.
There will not be any development if people continue pulling in different directions because of political differences!
Wilson is president of Democratic Opposition Party