President Emmerson Mnangagwa picked War Veterans leader Christopher Mutsvangwa as Information minister before hastily dropping his name after realising that the law only allowed him to appoint five non-constituency MPs into his Cabinet.
Mnangagwa dropped Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora yesterday. He also re-assigned Mutsvangwa and two other people that had been appointed ministers, Clever Nyathi and Joshua Malinga as advisors.
However, our reporter Obey Manayiti (OM) had already seized on the opportunity for an exclusive interview with Mutsvangwa (CM) who spelt out his vision for the ministry.
The former war veterans leader, a close Mnangagwa ally also revealed why the new president did not include opposition leaders in his Cabinet. Below are excerpts from the interview.
OM: Congratulations on your appointment, what is in store for the media industry during your tenure?
CM: I will strive to all my ability to do away with anything that is regarded as an impediment to free speech and the open flow of information and ideas.
That is what the new vibrant economic dispensation of President Mnangagwa will need to deliver the prosperity Zimbabweans expect of him.
OM: Under former president Robert Mugabe, the private media was targeted and free speech was suppressed. Are we likely to see any positive change under the new administration?
CM: I will excise the information statutes of all the excesses of Jonathan Moyo’s Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) and the Public Order and Security Act (Posa).
OM: During the transition that followed the military takeover, the private media has been starved of information and a case in point was the announcement of the new Cabinet. The Herald claimed it was an exclusive, does that point to the new way of doing things?
CM: The military period was a transient period to deal with a peculiar scenario. Now the president of the Republic has been chosen and has appointed a Cabinet, things will be done as they should.
I have no particular preferences between private and public media.
They both serve the same populace who turned up in their millions two weeks ago, as they clamoured for change.
OM: Many people have expressed disappointment on social media that the new Cabinet did not meet their expectation because it is neither inclusive nor lean?
CM: The president of the Republic is completing the term on a mandate already decided by the 2013 elections. He has constitutional constraints that emanate from choosing ministers from that pool.
If people have strong feelings on any of the MPs he chose, their chance will come in the next six to nine months as they vote in 2018 elections.
The power to deal with all sorts of dissatisfaction emanating from criminality, sloth or incompetence lies primarily at the national electoral choices.
OM: One of the reasons given by the military to seize control of government was that the former president was surrounded by criminals. How come the new Cabinet still has people tainted with corruption allegations?
CM: Let us not load the new president with burdens that rightly should be assumed by the voter.
OM: Was it deliberate on the part of Mnangagwa to retain most of the people that served under Mugabe’s governments that performed dismally?
CM: Zimbabweans are a serious political entity as shown by their discipline and maturity as they brought Mugabe’s misrule to an end. They are definitely not a fickle lot. They are going to give their new president much more time than a week to judge him. After all, Mugabe got a whole gamut of 37 years.
OM: Do you think Zimbabweans are justified in feeling betrayed by Mnangagwa? How about the large number of soldiers in the new Cabinet. Does this have anything to do with the events that led to Mugabe stepping down?
CM: The Zimbabwean military is a much loved institution, dear to Zimbabweans and more so with their exquisite execution of thwarting a Grace Mugabe palace coup by marriage certificate.
There is so much goodwill for a few two military faces in Cabinet, more so, when they are just that competent as Perrance Shiri and his bountiful command agriculture and the full granaries.
Generals Kelly and Flynn no more turned the Trump administration into a military junta.
OM: Do you expect the international community to embrace the new Cabinet given that it has a strong military component?
CM: We cannot be swayed by the sour grapes of a feckless civil society and indifferent opposition that was long acquiescing to Grace Mugabe and G40 depredations.
The military deserve plaudits as opposed to sulking brickbats.
The vibes from our regional super power neighbour South Africa are good. Second global economy China feels gingered up and is bullish about President Mnangagwa after the investment miasma of senility ridden Mugabe.
There are positive noises from Brussels, London and Washington as they struggle to shirk away their baggage of political clichés of the past and hopefully they will do so with more haste.
OM: What is the new government’s thrust in Mnangagwa’s first 100 days?
CM: The inaugural speech focused on the revival of a comatose economy and that is what Zimbabweans expect.
OM: You are one of the people that were advocating for an inclusive government, you even went to the extent of chastising Patrick Chinamasa when he said Zanu PF will go it alone. What happened to the promise to be inclusive?
CM: The various political parties intervened and deterred President Mnangagwa from choosing his preferred candidates for Cabinet posts. They surreptitiously fought for a government of national unity instead of inclusivity.