Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

VP appointments dash hopes

By Maxwell Sibanda

The reappointment of Kembo Mohadi and Constantino Chiwenga as vice presidents has been met with criticism with analysts saying President Emmerson Mnangagwa missed an opportunity to do things differently from his predecessor.

President Mnangagwa poses for a photograph with the newly-sworn in Vice Presidents Dr Constantino Chiwenga (left) and Kembo Mohadi at State House in Harare. — (Picture by Tawanda Mudimu)
President Mnangagwa poses for a photograph with the newly-sworn in Vice Presidents Dr Constantino Chiwenga (left) and Kembo Mohadi at State House in Harare. — (Picture by Tawanda Mudimu)

Many had hoped that Mnangagwa, who won the July 30 vote with a slender margin, would appoint an energetic and dynamic new team, starting with his deputies.

So far, he has kept faith in his old guard, which stands accused of running down the country.

Yesterday, the president reappointed Mohadi and Chiwenga to deputise him for the next five years.

Both have pledged to fulfil promises they made to the electorate in the run up to the July 30 harmonised elections.

They also promised to help turn around the country’s economy.

But analysts canvassed by the Daily News are not convinced that the vice presidents will deliver.

Political analyst MacDonald Lewanika said their reappointment indicates that it would be more of the same from Mnangagwa regarding the rest of his Cabinet.

“We are likely to see the old Cabinet being retained in the main for the same reasons that Mnangagwa had for the election — that he didn’t have enough time to make an impact — so those who won seats are likely to be retained together with one or two who lost,” he said.

“But the reality is that without wholesale changes to that Cabinet and having the wrong people on the Cabinet bus is unlikely to take Zimbabwe to destination prosperity,” added Lewanika.

He said while Mnangagwa argued that he had inherited former president Robert Mugabe’s government and Parliament when he assumed power in November last year, the excuse no longer holds anymore.

Lewanika said it was important that Mnangagwa seizes the opportunity to make merit-based appointments that allow deadwood to be thrown into the fire or float away in the interest of the country.

Interestingly, the entire presidium is dominated by a genealogy of the armed struggle and the military.

It is also consistent with the 1987 Unity Accord, signed between Zanu PF and Zapu.

Mugabe and the late Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo signed the accord in 1987, leading to the integration of PF-Zapu and Zanu.

Chiwenga, 62, is a former Zanla combatant, widely regarded by many as the power behind Mnangagwa, 75.

Mohadi, 68, is coming from the Zapu side.

Human rights lawyer Dewa Mavhinga said Mnangagwa had just missed a key opportunity to appoint a woman to be one of the deputies in line with his stated commitment to gender parity.

“Bringing back Chiwenga and Mohadi suggests it is business as usual with little room to accommodate genuine and radical approach to mark a truly new dispensation of accountability and respect for the rule of law,” said Mavhinga.

Media analyst Rashweat Mukundu said having served in government in various capacities, it was unlikely that Chiwenga and Mohadi will do things differently.

“Essentially the appointments are a confirmation that the new dispensation has nothing new to offer because we have had the same people for years and I doubt you can teach an old dog new tricks,” said Mukundu.

Crisis Coalition spokesperson Tabani Moyo said: “It points to a business as usual approach, the peoples of Zimbabwe should not expect change in the way the government operates. Actually the more things change the more they remain the same.

“Loyalty will be rewarded against competence and in some instances managing party fractures ahead of performance will be the key feature of this government. It’s at tangent from what it preaches — ‘birth of second republic’!”

Political analyst Vivid Gwede said: “The appointment is consistent with the hierarchy in Zanu PF at the moment. However, it also tells us that we should not expect many changes in terms of Mnangagwa’s appointments in government from November 2017.

“There is a possibility that all the deadwood will return to the Cabinet with little expectation for changes. This constrains the space for fresh ideas and creativity in terms of governance and solving national problems.”

Others, however, believe there is need for a measure of continuity, especially at the top.

Despite the choruses of disapproval, Chiwenga was upbeat yesterday about the future, saying it was no longer going to be business as usual.

“When we went around, we told the electorate what we intended to do in Zimbabwe and within this term which started on the inauguration of the president and those areas in terms of our economy, in terms of the social aspects to improve the living standards of our people. That is what we are going to do,” he said.

Mohadi said they were aiming at completing the unfinished business started in the last eight months since Mnangagwa came into power last November.

“We have set ourselves to turn around this economy, which is the key thing. To turn around the economy, one has to create jobs, which we did not manage to create in the last eight or so months, which was too short a period,” Mohadi said, adding that they hope to change things in the next five years.