President Emmerson Mnangagwa is set to retire long-serving Cabinet ministers and deploy them at Zanu PF headquarters — as he comes under growing pressure to dump the deadwood that worked for decades with ousted former leader Robert Mugabe.
At the same time, the Daily News has reliably been told that the ruling party also plans to adopt a modus operandi which give s it more power than the government — akin to the Chinese model.
Well-placed Zanu PF insiders told the newspaper yesterday that Mnangagwa was “definitely going to re-assign many bigwigs” to the party’s headquarters — commonly referred to as Shake Shake House in Harare street lingo — in a bid both to strengthen its administration and to also breathe new life in government.
The Chinese Community Party (CCP) has a similar model, which seems to have been lately adopted by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa.
“The changes are coming. What we are going to have is a situation whereby the old guard will go to the party and enjoy the same perks as ministers.
“What we are saying is that the party is supreme to the government and the party must therefore have the power to recall some of the ministers from government,” a senior member of the party told the Daily News.
Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana said the move would in practice make the party bigger than the government.
“It is the party that seconds people to the government, and so the party is superior.
“If we were following the South African model, it would have been clearer … any political party should be superior to the government, but we must improve the conditions at the party first,” he said.
Mnangagwa began his new term as president last month following the July 30 plebiscite whose outcome was hotly-contested by opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.
The elections were the first that Zimbabwe had held without the deposed Mugabe — who resigned from office in November last year on the back of a military intervention.
They also marked the first time that the main opposition MDC was not represented by its founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who lost his brave battle with cancer of the colon on Valentine’s Day earlier this year.
However, the peaceful campaigns and a camaraderie spirit that had characterised the run-up to the elections were sullied in the aftermath of the polls when deadly violence broke out in Harare’s central business district (CBD), following clashes between opposition supporters and security agents.
At least six people subsequently died when the army used live ammunition to break the ugly protests.
Following the protests, the opposition also asserted that suspected security agents had been involved in retributive exercises in which they targeted senior MDC Alliance officials and polling agents — following the insistence by Chamisa that he had in fact won the presidential election.
All this was seen by observers as harming Mnangagwa’s quest to mend years of Zimbabwe’s broken relations with key Western governments.
Against this background, political analysts told the Daily News yesterday that the country’s 75 year-old leader needed to come up with “a convincing” Cabinet to demonstrate that he was breaking with Mugabe’s ruinous past.
Piers Pigou, a senior consultant with the International Crisis Group, said Mnangagwa needed to retire the old guard and replace it with “competent individuals” who shared his vision of transforming the country.
“This would certainly address anxieties that have been percolating about the retention of deadwood, which would not inspire confidence in the implementation of Mnangagwa’s proposed reforms.
“As to whether the country will move forward with a raft of new Cabinet appointments, this depends on an array of external and internal variables, and not least, the competencies of those brought into the Executive and the teams they have supporting them,” Pigou told the Daily News.
Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said Mnangagwa had a golden opportunity to prove that he was serious about transforming the country.
“Having young people on the driving seat of governance and development is not only the right thing to do, but also a democratic opportunity given the surging young population in Zimbabwe and other neighbouring African countries.
“The appointment of new, younger people will be a good indicator that the country is moving forward. It will inspire confidence … not only among locals, but also external investors and other countries.
“Retiring the old guard to the party is also a good move, even though it might cause rumblings and discohesion in Zanu PF. But it is the way to go,” Saungweme said.
Namibia-based scholar Admire Mare said Mnangagwa would need to overhaul the whole system and put Zimbabwe on the recovery path again if he was to perform better than Mugabe.
“Whilst change of personnel in the Cabinet is something everyone is looking forward to seeing, there is also need to look beyond faces and interrogate the system of government — including permanent secretaries, directors and ministers.
“The whole system requires significant cleansing in order to introduce confidence and trust in the public that this is indeed a “new” dispensation.
“New personnel will ultimately bring the much needed confidence and trust from the general public, which can also cascade to regional and international publics.
“Some of the old guard is so discredited to the point that they lack the political standing needed to drive the country forward. News brooms will ultimately sweep cleaner than the old guard,” Mare said.
Analysts have also said previously that while Mnangagwa was credited with presiding over arguably the most peaceful election process in post-independent Zimbabwe — he needed to extend an invitation to the opposition to join his government, a move which they said would unite the deeply-divided country.
While Zanu PF has ruled out reaching to the opposition, Mnangagwa has said he would use his “constitutional” prerogative in deciding who would form part of his next government.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of a huge economic crisis which has seen prices of basic consumer goods skyrocketing, weeks after the July 30 national elections.
Apart from price hikes, most public hospitals have run out of basic essential drugs, which government is struggling to import due to acute shortages of foreign currency.