By Blessings Mashaya
President Emmerson Mnangagwa moved to consolidate his power yesterday when he appointed his longtime confidante and loyalist Owen “Mudha” Ncube as the country’s new State Security minister.
He also appointed new and reassigned permanent secretaries.
In so doing, Mnangagwa completed the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle, after systematically effecting root and branch changes to Zimbabwe’s security sector which is key in both party and national politics.
The Gokwe-Kana MP had until yesterday appeared to have been left in the cold when Mnangagwa announced his warmly received new Cabinet team which excluded him. Ncube had, until then, been Midlands Provincial Affairs minister.
Political analysts told the Daily News yesterday that Ncube’s appointment further consolidated the power of the 76-year-old Mnangagwa in both the government and the ruling Zanu PF — especially after he survived a bomb blast in Bulawayo in the run-up to the July 30 national elections.
“The appointment suggests a consolidation of power by ED given his longtime association with … Ncube.
“Overall, the makeup of the entire Cabinet also points to a stronger ED, and a weakening of other perceived centres of power.
“However, it is unclear if he (Ncube) is the best choice for the job given that his name has been associated with Zanu PF vigilantism which wreaked havoc in the Midlands,” rights defender and political analyst Dewa Mavhinga said.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure said Mnangagwa was sending a “clear message that he is his own man”.
“It’s a constitutional obligation to appoint a State Security minister, but the fact is that he also wants to consolidate power. He is now crafting the Cabinet in his own image … he is now his own man after the elections, and not burdened by the influence of those who catapulted him into power last November.
“He wants to make sure that in the next five years there are no threats in Cabinet and in his own party. He has learned important Zanu PF lessons, including from the factional fights which led to the ouster of Mugabe. So, he wants to consolidate power so that he can survive such moves by appointing his most loyal allies,” Masunungure said.
Piers Pigou, a senior consultant at the International Crisis Group, also said that “there was no doubt” that Mnangagwa was flexing his political muscles.
“On face value, Ncube’s appointment looks like a consolidation of the president’s influence as another ally has been brought into a key security and intelligence portfolio.
“But it is really not so much who has the position, but what is done with it … This portfolio has been responsible for many egregious violations and has been central to the inculcation of fear and mistrust in the country.
“It will thus be important to see how things manifest themselves with respect to this sensitive and controversial portfolio,” Pigou told the Daily News.
Mnangagwa’s new Cabinet has generally been positively received after he dumped both friends and foes alike in his bid to reset the government’s compass.
This was after he swung the axe on much of the deadwood that had been ‘‘permanent features’’ in Mugabe’s misfiring Cabinets. Apart from cutting loose the old guard, Mnangagwa also significantly reduced the size of the previously bloated Cabinet — while also taking the key Defence portfolio away from his influential deputy Constantino Chiwenga.
Mnangagwa and his Cabinet are under pressure to stop the economy from sliding back into the throes of an economic crisis similar to the 2008 hyperinflation era.
Millions of Zimbabweans cast their vote in the historic July 30 elections, to choose both a new Parliament and president — following the dramatic fall from power of Mugabe in November last year.
Meanwhile, in a statement circulated by the chief secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet last night, Mnangagwa appointed 18 permanent secretaries. Of note is the reassigning of George Charamba from the Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services ministry to the office of the president as deputy chief secretary (presidential communications).
See full list below.
List of Permanent Secretaries
Defence and War Veterans — Martin Rushwaya,
Finance and Economic Development — George Guvamatanga
Energy and Power Development — Gloria Magombo
Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development — Rudo Chitiga
Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage — Melusi Matshiya
Transport and Infrastructural Development — Amos Marawa
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing — George Magosvongwe
Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development — Fanuel Tagwira
Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement — Ringson Chitsiko
Industry and Commerce — Mavis Sibanda
Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry — Munesushe Munodawafa
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare — Judith Kateera
Foreign Affairs and International Trade — James Manzou
Mines and Mining Development — Onesimo Moyo
Information Communication Technology and Courier Services — Samuel Kundishora
Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation — Thokozile Chitepo
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs — Virginia Mabiza
Health and Child Care — Gerald Gwinji
Deputy Chief Secretary (Presidential Communications) — George Charamba
Secretary to the Service Commissions — Jonathan Wutawunashe DailyNews