Jostling for Cabinet posts has reached fever pitch, as pressure mounts on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to appoint a young, dynamic and small Cabinet capable of breathing fresh life into the country’s comatose economy.
Mnangagwa, who took oath of office on Sunday — ending the uncertainty that had persisted for more than three weeks after the MDC Alliance challenged his slender victory in court — is spoilt for choice as he picks his Cabinet.
His Zanu PF party secured a two-thirds majority in Parliament, with 145 seats and 34 seats in the Senate — giving him a wide pool to choose from.
In terms of the Constitution, he can also handpick five non-constituency Members of Parliament to add depth to his Cabinet.
But as Mnangagwa weighs his options, officials in his party are busy positioning themselves for strategic postings in government.
Covert and overt lobbying has been on show lately, with officials trying to curry favour with Mnangagwa and some of his trusted lieutenants.
On Sunday, Zanu PF officials went to great lengths to get his attention, with others exaggerating their contribution to his wafer-thin victory.
Mnangagwa is, however, under pressure to desist from the previous winner-take-all mentality, which has not helped in bridging the divide characterising Zimbabwe’s body politic.
His Cabinet, according to analysts, must be one that delivers on the economic front to enable the 75-year-old Zanu PF leader to confound his critics, and make a strong case for a second and final term in office at the 2023 polls.
There are more ringing calls for Mnangagwa to dump the old guard such as Obert Mpofu, Patrick Chinamasa, Oppah Muchinguri, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Sithembiso Nyoni, Simon Khaya Moyo and July Moyo and go for the young turks.
Some of the old guard made themselves vulnerable by failing to go past the party primary polls held in April this year and the July 30 harmonised elections, among them Moyo, Chinamasa, Christopher Mutsvangwa and Petronella Kagonye.
Analysts canvassed by the Daily News said Mnangagwa could fail or succeed, based on the men and women he is going to choose to be part of his Cabinet.
Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said he needs to appoint a lean Cabinet of not more than 16 ministers, and do away with deputies.
“He needs to appoint an inclusive and bipartisan Cabinet that includes talent from opposition parties. He needs to look in the private sector, non-governmental organisations sector and other sectors for talent,” he said.
Saungweme said Mnangagwa should take into his Cabinet technocrats such as Mthuli Ncube, the chief economist and vice president of the African Development Bank, to head a critical portfolio such as Finance.
He also made reference to Alliance for the People’s Agenda leader Nkosana Moyo as one of the technocrats who could add value to his Cabinet.
Moyo, a former Industry minister in former president Robert Mugabe’s Cabinet, was one of the 23 presidential candidates that participated in the just-ended polls.
While Mnangagwa has heralded his leadership as a new dispensation, his last appointments failed to inspire confidence after he recycled the old guard and disregarded calls for gender parity.
Analysts now expect him to change his strategy and bring in new faces that would transform the economy and ultimately revive the country’s fortunes.
Economist Kipson Gundani said Zimbabweans were expecting a fresh start, new faces, and delivery.
He said those who have been part of the Cabinet for the past 10 to 20 years should give way to fresh faces.
To unite a divided nation, Gundani said Mnangagwa must be all-inclusive, paying attention to the need to be gender-sensitive.
“We expect a new-look Cabinet for new thinking, new parameters and new views. Certain people should be allowed to rest in order to build confidence,” Gundani said.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Denford Mutashu said appointees must not have any history of being directly or indirectly involved in corrupt activities.
“The appointments are key in the stimulation of the economy in terms of creating confidence. The last Cabinet appointed after November 24 last year does not arouse confidence in the market. There has to be a selection of people with a good track record in terms of their governing principles,” Mutashu said.
“There is no harm for the president to select a Cabinet that transcends gender; that transcends colour, religion or creed. There is need for the president to select people with tenets of good governance and rule of law. The challenge is having people that might not move with the same pace with him. If someone has been a minister since 1985, what more do we expect from him? The society has changed and we require people with the tenacity and modernity to try and turn around the fortunes of the country.
“We also expect change in the structure in terms of ministries, because there are people that have overstayed. As business we are not going to support mediocre, we expect a lot of changes and the president taking painful decisions to retire some of the old civil servants and bring young, dynamic minds that resonate with his vision,” he said.
Former MDC member Eddie Cross also emphasised the need for a lean Cabinet.
“What we need in the next week is the selection of a new Cabinet which will be smaller than in the past, under 20 members please, made up of men and women with three main characteristics, they must be people of known integrity, both intellectual and fiduciary, they must have experience and they must have the capacity in both energy and leadership terms to take over the leadership of the tens of thousands employed in our civil service and who must do much of the work to turn this country and its economy around,” he said.
Cross said even though Mnangagwa has made notable developments that are aimed at improving the country’s fortunes, it is his choice in the new Cabinet that will be of importance.
“If he recycles the old guard and fails to appoint new blood, even from outside his party, he will disappoint and this will make his task even greater than it has to be,” he said.
According to the Constitution, the tenure of office of a minister or deputy minister becomes vacant upon the assumption of office by a new president.
While Mnangagwa is yet to indicate when he would announce his Cabinet, his assumption of office on Sunday means he would be able to do so anytime.
His spokesperson George Charamba could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print.