A country in suspended animation

Finally the cabinet is now out. It was a long wait indeed. The carpenter from Njube was taking his time.

I am now glad that I now have a book cabinet. So went the cynical message that circulated the social media.

It illustrated the anxiety that had gripped the nation on the delays by President Robert Mugabe in appointing a new Cabinet.

Fortunately, as if the author of that text was a prophet of sorts, the announcement was made within 24 hours of hitting the cybersphere and what an anti-climax it was given the high expectations.

It became obvious from the word go that the Cabinet, that I described on Twitter as “old wine in old bottles” was a jobs-for-the-boys project — jobs-for-the-old-boys to be more accurate.

Someone quipped that the average age of the Cabinet could be around 70, give or take a few days either way. That, of course, can be disputed.

There is no doubt that the amount of recycled material would make environmentalists green with envy.

The reappointment of Jonathan Moyo into the Information ministry sent shivers down the spines of the media fraternity.

Journalists covering the announcement at State house last week are said to have giggled nervously as “Jonzola” confidently strode in.

“What’s funny?” he is said to have asked the scribes who would have easily beaten Garfield the cat in a grinning competition.

There are bound to be tough times ahead for opinionated scribes like yours truly. Siberia is a very distant and cold place, comrades.

However, it seems that the “new” minister seems determined to turn a new leaf. He is said to have told some people that journalists have nothing to fear “except fear itself”.

Towering and gravel-voiced former Masvingo governor Josiah Hungwe’s new ministry has tongues wagging. I have been struggling to get my feeble brain round remembering the Ministry of Psychomotor blah blah! For his part, Hungwe has been at pains to explain what the heck his new assignment is supposed to be and has failed.

His nemesis in Masvingo, Dzikamayi Mavahire, was rewarded with a more pithy Cabinet appointment, that of Energy.

We won’t go into the merits and the demerits of such a choice by Mugabe save to say it is instructive as to who is more senior between the two protagonists in the volatile southern province.

Hungwe, with all his 78 years behind him, was brought in to balance things a bit in whatever capacity.

Meanwhile, we saw the redeployment of Obert Mpofu and Saviour Kasukuwere to less fashionable ministries.

The placement of Francis Nhema at the Indigenisation ministry will help cool frayed nerves in the private sector.

Belligerence that was the trademark of Tyson (Kasukuwere) was doing little to attract much-needed investment.

The jury is still out as to the thinking behind the obedient son’s demotion save to speculate that there must be more than what meets the eye.

It could be a good thing because we might see the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road being completed in our lifetime.

His successor at Mines, Walter Chidakwa, is known for his stint with the Zimbabwe Investment Centre and as deputy minister of State Enterprise and Parastatals in the unity government. Save for that, well, little else. He really knows how to blend into the woodwork, and he is from Zvimba by the way.

The game of musical chairs involving Emmerson Mnangagwa (Justice), Sydney Sekeremayi (Defence) and Didymus Mutasa (Presidential Affairs) is one that will raise few eyebrows.

Putting the abrasive Patrick Chinamasa into the sensitive Finance ministry is unleashing a bull into the china shop. Except perhaps the fact that there is little china in the shop to smash. I do not see him softening the bravado to detractors from the West.

I suspect that his post had been offered to someone else in the first place who could have flatly turned it down.

The appointment of Ministers of State in charge of provinces is Zanu PF’s answer to neutralising the provincial councils.

This is apart from dredging former governors from political oblivion. Watch this space for conflicts of interest that will arise from each institution trying to assert itself.

Is devolution a dead donkey? I really do not know until the carcass starts smelling.

As for other appointments, Simon Khaya Moyo is merely in the waiting room to the vice presidency. Andrew Langa in Sport, Arts and Culture, well . . . Joseph Made (Agriculture) and Goche (Labour), Muchinguri (Gender), do you hear me cheering wildly?
It would be too early for us to expect things to suddenly change with this lot at the helm.

The first 100 days will see a lot of sound and fury being generated, all signifying nothing.

The next five years will be what scientists call suspended animation — the slowing of life processes by external means without termination.

 Lenox Mhlanga is a social commentator

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