President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s new Cabinet received an overwhelming thumbs down, with observers saying it was neither inspiring nor capable of changing the country’s fortunes and instead he had chosen to stick with the old guard often credited with ruining the country’s economy.
Many had expected Mnangagwa to appoint a lean Cabinet, with fresh faces, but he chose to stick mostly with those that had served his predecessor.
“The new Cabinet is not at all inspiring; it is like recycling dead wood, it’s actually a distinction without difference. It is like showing the reverse side of the same coin, it is more of the same,” MDC-T spokesperson, Obert Gutu said.
“Essentially, this is like putting old wine in new bottles. There will be no fundamental change in approach, going forward.
“Most of the people in this Cabinet don’t have any new and refreshing ideas to kick-start the comatose economy.”
The party’s deputy president, Nelson Chamisa took to Twitter to express his disappointment with Mnangagwa’s appointments.
“The so-called ‘new Cabinet’ is the new old and old new (sic). The ‘new’ old President has not renewed. Command Cabinet, command politics, command elections, command agriculture and command economics are not indicators of a New Zim and new beginning. Young people take charge (sic)!”
The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) said it was not surprising that Mnangagwa is reading from Mugabe’s handbook.
“It was always clear to NCA that the ascendance of President Emmerson Mnangagwa was just the takeover of government by a faction of Zanu PF that had the support of the army,” party spokesperson, Madock Chivasa said.
The Joice Mujuru-led National People’s Party labelled the Cabinet a military one, saying it did not inspire confidence at all.
“Firstly, this is a GNU (government of national unity) between the army, Zanu PF and a section of the war veterans.
“Put simply, it’s a military Cabinet that is calibrated with failed and recycled dead wood,” party spokesperson, Gift Nyandoro said.
“Zimbabweans should never expect miracles for there is no way the nation can expect to solve our economic challenges using the same kind of thinking that created them.
“Simply put, Zanu PF is a system of failed national leadership to which Mugabe was simply a representative face.
Zimbabweans now need to go for complete dismantling of the system come 2018 harmonised elections.”
Activist, Farai Maguwu described the Cabinet as recycled “corruption legends, who have no honour”.
“The new Cabinet is brazenly militaristic, chauvinistic and misogynist. Far from focusing on economic recovery, the new President is more concerned about surrounding himself with military tanks and gunpowder,” he said.
“That we don’t have a single person under the age of 40 in this Cabinet means the new government is an old people’s home guarded by the military.
“The selection criteria was based on Zanu PF factional positions, as opposed to competency and integrity.”
Mnangagwa’s 22-member Cabinet has sparked debate on whether the new President will avoid falling into his predecessor’s trap of having a bloated Cabinet that drained the overburdened fiscus.
Those that have served under Mugabe and have been reappointed are David Parirenyatwa (Health), Oppah Muchinguri (Environment), Lazarus Dokora (Education), Prisca Mupfumira (Tourism), Patrick Chinamasa (Finance), Kembo Mohadi (Defence, Security and War Veterans), Simbarashe Mumbengegwi (Presidential Affairs), Mike Bimha (Industry) Simon Khaya Moyo (Energy), Sithembiso Nyoni (Women and Youth Affairs), Jorum Gumbo (Transport), Supa Mandiwanzira (ICT) and Obert Mpofu (Home Affairs).
Those with a military background include Air Marshal Perrance Shiri (Lands), Major General Sibusiso Moyo (Foreign Affairs). Coming from the war veterans’ wing are Christopher Mutsvangwa (Information) and Victor Matemadanda (War Veterans deputy minister).
A source claimed Mnangagwa had limited options, as most MPs had no professional skills, let alone five Ordinary levels passes.
The source said the likes of Mpofu were kept to ensure regional balance.
“Opposition leaders also refused with their MPs, as they wanted themselves to be appointed in Cabinet,” the source claimed.
MDC spokesperson, Kurauone Chihwayi insisted the retention of the likes of Dokora was a joke.
“More worrying though is the fact that the masterminds of the military coup against Mugabe and his G40 have simply replaced their military fatigues with civilian suits and remained in charge,” he said.
“The appointment of soldiers into Cabinet teaches us that Mnangagwa’s administration is indeed a military junta we always feared it would be.
“Thus, from the G40 cabal, straight into a military junta.”
Rejoice Ngwenya, a political analyst, described Mnangagwa’s appointments as a missed penalty in injury time.
Commenting on Twitter, Norton independent legislator, Temba Mliswa, who has been advocating for Mnangagwa’s leadership said: “After the ‘new’ Cabinet, the sensation of hope that had been born from the post-Mugabe era, has just been extinguished. I cannot say too much. It was supposed to be about national interest.”
Alex Magaisa, a prominent legal analyst, said many people expected change to be visible in the make-up of the new Cabinet.
He said people expected new faces and fresh ideas.
“Unless Mnangagwa has a miraculous formula, it will be hard to teach these old dogs new tricks,” he said.
Others expressed outrage at Mnangagwa’s failure to appoint more female ministers.
Only three women out of 22 ministers were appointed.
Chairperson of the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, Pamela Mhlanga said Mnangagwa’s appointments fell short of constitutional dictates that call for equal representation. She said key ministries such as Defence, Mining, Finance, Education and Health had been kept exclusively for men.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition director, Memory Kadau said: “We maintain that the Zimbabwe reform and reconstruction agenda can only be driven and implemented by competent personnel with strong traits of integrity and accountability.”
Political commentator and Shalom Project Trust director, Anglistone Sibanda said: “He (Mnangagwa) kept the same known looters and mediocre persons, the people feel betrayed and the optimism has been destroyed.
“It has also exposed what we have always said that Zimbabwe is a military state run by a junta that doesn’t care about people.”
A Bulawayo resident, Muziwethu Ngulube said Zimbabweans had been taken for a ride.
“How can the same old looters, who stood with the dictator in denying us freedom and destroying our economy, be awarded half of the ministries?
“This can only translate to one thing, loyalty and factionalism comes first in Zanu PF.
“The new President is just awarding his foot soldiers, who stood with him in Team Lacoste with jobs.
“However, let’s not condemn them yet, let’s wait and see, maybe they have transformed, if not, the election is just around the corner, we will vote them out.”
Ibhetshu likaZulu secretary general, Mbuso Fuzwayo said: “It is unfortunate that the general populace thought the Cabinet will be inclusive, less military, but it is worse than Mugabe’s.