Mugabe Cabinet: New wine in old bottles

SPECULATION has been rife in the past weeks over the names to be included in President Robert Mugabe’s new Cabinet, with indications that he may retain the core of people that have dominated his government since 1980.

Report by Nduduzo Tshuma

In the past, Mugabe has tried to rope in new names into his Cabinet, but he has often run out of patience with them and reverted to the old guard.

In 2002, in the face of food and fuel shortages and rising inflation, Mugabe appointed a Cabinet of technocrats, who were supposed to solve Zimbabwe’s then growing crises. Soon cracks began to emerge and Nkosana Moyo quit in a huff much to the fury of Mugabe.

Mugabe, feeling shortchanged, described Moyo as weak, saying a government needed amadoda sibili (real men) and he could yet look to the tried and tested people in formulating his latest government.

Analysts say Mugabe’s Cabinet will be dominated by the party’s loyalists with a “sprinkle” of new and young faces, popularly referred to as Young Turks.

Senior analyst in the Southern Africa International Crisis Group, Trevor Maisiri, said Mugabe faced a balancing act of some sorts, as he had to pay attention to three issues.

“Firstly, he needs a Cabinet that can deliver economic prospects for growth and recovery,” he said.

“Secondly, he will be under pressure to appoint a Cabinet that is not seen as favouring more of Emmerson Mnangagwa or Joice Mujuru loyalists.

“Thirdly, he has to balance the Young Turks with the old guard in order to reflect the party’s openness to the youths.”

Maisiri predicted that there will be new, zealous and energetic people in the Cabinet, but there are also some who will be maintained for loyalty sake, but not on meritocracy.

“What will affect the performance of the Cabinet is the political syndrome of loyalty, where others will get Cabinet positions, but will not be able to pace themselves up with the kind of expertise, leadership, energy and zeal required to address the huge challenges faced by the country,” he said.

Habakkuk Trust chief executive officer Dumisani Nkomo said there was a possibility that Mugabe would bring in a few new faces.

“He may bring in new faces in the form of Temba Mliswa and new faces like Gideon Gono and those new faces who won in the elections,” he speculated.

“There are, however, critical faces like Mnangagwa, Sydney Sekeramai and Ignatius Chombo that will be retained. It depends on Mugabe, on whether he wants a technocratic Cabinet or those ministers who will be fighting with people.

“It also depends on how sincere Mugabe is on changing the country’s fortunes.”

Political analyst Godwin Phiri echoed Maisiri’s sentiments that Mugabe had to balance his appointments between rival factions.

“We wait to see what critical people he will add to his Cabinet. He has to balance the succession issue by accommodating members of the rival factions to the Cabinet. There will be a sprinkling of new faces, but mostly it will be the same faces principally, because of Zanu PF’s politics of patronage,” he said.

Parliament will be sworn in on Tuesday and Mugabe is then expected to announce a Cabinet.

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