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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
needs dynamic, pragmatic ministers
Faith Zaba, The Independent (Zimbabwe)
August 16, 2013
Robert Mugabe’s controversial
and messy re-election, the country and other stakeholders are
awaiting to see what sort of cabinet he will appoint soon, after
the on-going Constitutional Court case
in which outgoing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is alleging the
elections were rigged to secure victory for Zanu-PF.
Cabinet is a key executive government body which
deals with major policy issues, including important spending proposals
and financial commitments, legislative agenda, decisions on international
agreements, politically controversial questions, diplomatic matters
and any other functions and tasks which affect citizens, business
and the country’s international relations.
As a result, whatever cabinet Mugabe will put together
soon will be of interest at home and abroad. It will indicate if
Mugabe wants change or wants to remain on the failed path he has
been travelling for years, mainly with regards to democratic fundamentals,
the economy and international relations.
Given the markets’ downward spiral following
his re-election, Mugabe’s priority should be the economy if
he wants his new term to be a success.
Mugabe’s ability to resuscitate the economy
will largely depend on the calibre of cabinet ministers he will
appoint to run government for the next five years.
Political analysts and economists believe Mugabe
who is desperate to restore legitimacy and revamp his battered image
needs to make progressive appointments reflecting a leaner, younger,
vibrant, dynamic and pragmatic cabinet, instead of one packed with
deadwood, rigid ideologues and corrupt cronies who add no value
to how the country and economy are run.
Brian Ngwenya, an international economic development
analyst, said Mugabe must put together a cabinet that instils confidence
among the people and the economy.
“Mugabe has to appoint a cabinet that can
maintain the confidence in the economy restored during the coalition
government. I’m sure he does not want to leave behind a shattered
economy. So I think the ministers who are going to be appointed
are going to ensure the success of indigenisation and the economy,”
he said. “The calibre will largely depend on whether his choice
will be based on economic sense or shifty party politics.”
Analysts say the selection of ministers, who will
head key ministries like Finance, Mines, Transport, Agriculture,
Industry, Local Government and Indigenisation, will be critical
in determining the direction the country will take.
Economists say Mugabe should appoint a leaner cabinet
of at most 15 ministers, focusing mainly on finance, industry, agriculture,
education, health, energy, defence, home affairs, local government,
labour, transport, justice, women and youths, technology and communication,
as well as indigenisation.
In the past, Mugabe’s cabinets have mainly
failed because some of his ministers, who run government departments
and advise him on matters relating to their portfolios, have been
appointed merely on loyalty, patronage and even ethnic grounds,
not merit and competency.
Meritocracy has suffered due to Mugabe’s anxiety
to accommodate loyalists and allies rather than competent people.
What made the situation worse has been that even
if some of the ministers failed, Mugabe has been largely reluctant
to drop them, including those who are openly corrupt and incompetent.
As the country awaits Mugabe’s inauguration,
whose victory is being legally challenged by the MDC-T which is
seeking a poll re-run citing election rigging, many Zimbabweans
are hoping that he will finally get rid of his forest of deadwood
who have proved failures in office but who survive on loyalty and
Independent investment advisor, Kevin Msipha said
the performance of the economy would define Mugabe’s legacy.
“The challenge right now is the economy. If
anything is going to define his legacy, it is going to be how he
approaches the economy. Unfortunately, with the economy, he cannot
be as hard as or as difficult as he has been with other issues.
There are so many factors to consider because the economy is very
fragile right now. The challenge with the economy is with policy
uncertainty and a lack of confidence,” he said.
“This he can fix by appointing a Finance minister
who has local roots and appeals to local business and the international
community. For example, Nigeria appointed a Finance minister from
the World Bank and this sent the right signal to the markets and
such an approach is what is needed in Zimbabwe at this moment.”
Msipha added that: “Someone like Joe Mtizwa
(chairman of Star Africa and former Delta CEO) will send the correct
signals. He has respect from business and is seen in good light
internationally. Politically, he is also a war veteran, something
which would appeal to Mugabe.” Analysts say even Reserve Bank
governor Gideon Gono, whose term ends in November, could be a suitable
candidate for the Finance ministry given his experience in business
and the financial services sector.
He is also well-known within business and international
circles, and in fact took the lead last week to calm the population
and markets amid swirling speculation about the return of the defunct
Zimdollar, panicky withdrawals from banks and a plunge in the stock
Other possible Finance ministers are Sylvester Nguni,
Cottco CEO, and Zimbabwe Revenue Authority boss Gershem Pasi. Analysts
say the person appointed to this post should be someone who embraces
transparency and accountability.
The calibre of Mugabe’s cabinet ministers
will determine the direction the country will take in the next five
years and whether the gains of the four-year transitional government
will be reversed or whether Mugabe’s last term will put Zimbabwe
back on the track it derailed since 1997 after initial patches of
success in the 1980s.
“Cabinet is responsible for directing the
operations of government, conducting government business in parliament,
preparing, initiating and implementing national legislation, developing
and implementing national policy and advising the president,”
said an analyst who requested anonymity.
“So whatever appointments he makes will have
a bearing on the future of the country, and the economy in particular.”
In 2008 Mugabe described his cabinet as the worst
he had ever had. However, he retained the same ministers, raising
questions about his commitments to run a capable and effective government.
“The cabinet that I had was the worst in history.
They (only) look at themselves, they are unreliable, but not all
of them. The people are suffering…”, Mugabe was quoted
saying in August 2008, after winning the disputed second-round June
polls, which Tsvangirai withdrew from citing violence perpetrated
on his supporters.
Mugabe, however, still went ahead in 2009 to appoint
the bulk of the same people he had described as the worst.
Unlike in 2009, this time around Mugabe has a large
pool to choose from after his party won 160 of the 210 seats contested
on July 31 and an additional 37 senators. Additionally, 37 women
from Zanu-PF were elected through proportional representation.
The president is also allowed by the new constitution
to appoint five ministers or deputies to cabinet outside the National
Assembly members and senators.
Chapter 5, Section
104 (3) of the constitution
reads: “Ministers and deputy ministers are appointed from
among senators and Members of the National Assembly, but up to five,
chosen for their professional skills and competence, may be appointed
Mugabe now has the opportunity to correct the wrongs
of the past and put in motion a serious economic recovery plan.
Analysts say instead of appointing party loyalists
and allies, the president should appoint technocrats to key ministries,
who are better qualified to implement reforms needed to revive Zimbabwe’s
industry and economy.
Mugabe has an opportunity to prove his critics wrong
by appointing people who are performance-driven and raise the hopes
of Zimbabweans dampened by his controversial re-election and socio-economic
The prevailing sentiment within business is that Mugabe must use
the five appointees to bring in a competent Finance minister someone
who is knowledgeable, market-oriented and engages industry and multilateral
institutions. The minister also needs to be someone with a social
democratic persuasion to avoid him or her being a captive of the
markets at the expense of the people and social services.
Analysts say Mugabe must appoint a transparent and accountable minister
to run the sector. If his objective is to keep the mining sector
opaque, then he can reappoint his previous unaccountable ministers,
including Obert Mpofu. However, if he is willing to change and ensure
transparency then he needs someone different.
Industry Economists say Mugabe should appoint the
Industry and Commerce minister from outside parliament. The ministrty
needs someone who can turnaround the distressed sector, particularly
manufacturing, where companies and factories have either closed
down, streamlined operations or are operating at far below capacity
At present trends, capacity utilisation is expected
to decline further than the 44,2% reported in 2012. This will address
the issue of production, employment and the tax revenue base for
government, among other necessary components for economic revival.
Analysts say the current minister, Nicholas Goche, has done fairly
well as shown by the on-going countrywide refurbishment of the highway
network and construction of tollgates, modest revival of Air Zimbabwe
and the purchase of new equipment to patch up potholes.
Whoever is appointed there needs to revive the public
transport system, such as the revival of the National Railways of
Zimbabwe and Zupco.
Analysts say the ministry desperately needs someone to replace the
overzealous Saviour Kasukuwere who has damaged the process, while
dividing government through his belligerent approach. This is not
the time to appoint hawks in such areas.
Msipha said: “The principle of indigenisation
is good, every country is practising it. There should not be a sense
that we are doing something new or different from other countries.
“The only problem is that we are poor communicators.
The key thing is how you package the programme.
“We need a person who understands the concept
and can explain it better. We need a progressive and open-minded
person in that area. It should be separated from youths and could
instead be Ministry of Indigenisation and Entrepreneurship.”
Analysts say if Mugabe wants to show he is embracing good governance
and accountability, he should reassign or boot out current minister
Ignatius Chombo who has been tainted by numerous allegations of
corruption and dispatch him to such a portfolio as Higher Education
where he is not distracted by accumulating stands and houses or
fire him altogether.
This is a very key ministry, considering power shortages and how
they affect the people and cripple business. Analysts say Mugabe
needs to appoint a vibrant minister to tackle the numerous problems
affecting the power sector.
He can appoint from the numerous new MPs who have
an in-depth knowledge about the sector.
Even if Mugabe might want to make radical changes in the new cabinet,
his political vulnerability and fear of the unknown will likely
ensure he retains most of his old guard loyalists such as Emmerson
Mnangagwa and Sydney Sekeramayi -– who are almost always recycled
around the Defence and Security portfolios.
Deadwood like Didymus Mutasa, enthusiastic adherents
like Patrick Chinamasa and Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, for instance,
are also likely to remain.
Ineffectual ministers, such as Olivia Muchena and
Sithembiso Nyoni, could also survive even though they are part of
the deadwood, while loyal and hardworking losers like Jonathan Moyo
could also come back through the backdoor.
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