Zimbabwe Cabinet Reshuffle – an exercise of power, not a plan to address an ailing economy

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    Ten cabinet ministers have been reassigned and
    eight new appointments have been made by Mugabe. Two new
    ministries have been added while others have been
    merged.

    Mugabe hinted at the possibility of a cabinet
    reshuffle at the weekend during a ZANU-PF Youth Wing meeting
    held in Harare.

    Of the key ministries impacted by the
    reshuffle was the Finance and Economic Development ministry.
    Ignatius Chombo has been assigned to lead that ministry, while
    former Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa was reassigned to
    the new ministry on Cyber Security, Threat Detection and
    Mitigation. Christopher Mushowe has been appointed to the new
    ministry of State in the President’s Office responsible for
    National Scholarships, while Simon Khaya Moyo takes over the
    Media, Information and Broadcasting Services ministry.

    The appointment of the Central Intelligence
    Office boss, Happyton Bonyongwe to  Vice President Emmerson
    Mnangagwa’s ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary
    Affairs is seen as a promotion in the face of  Mnangagwa’s
    demotion.

    Dewa Mavhinga, Southern Africa Director at
    Human Rights Watch, said:  “Previously,
    Generation-40 (G-40), a rival faction within ZANU-PF, has
    accused Mnangagwa of abusing the Justice ministry to further
    his successionist agenda through constitutional amendment to
    control the appointment of the Chief Justice and Prosecutor
    General.”

    Former Information and Communication
    Technology minister Webster Shamu and Deputy Health Minister
    Paul Chimedza have bounced back as provincial ministers.

    “Recycling dead wood, is a common Mugabe
    strategy over the past three decades. Walter Mzembi, former
    Tourism minister has been reassigned to the Foreign Affairs
    ministry. Chimedza and Mzembi have been elevated in Masvingo as
    G-40 functionaries ahead of Mnangagwa’s loyalists,” Mavhinga
    said.

    Shamu and Chimedza were among dozens of
    ZANU-PF party officials who were suspended in 2014 on
    allegations of working with former Vice President Joice Mujuru
    to oust Mugabe.

    Mavhinga said while the reshuffle did not go
    all out to end Mnangagwa’s political career, it has weakened
    him, through the removal of the former War Veterans minister,
    Tshinga Dube and Public Service, Labour and Social Services
    Elizabeth Mupfumira, who were known Mnangagwa’s allies.

    “Mnangagwa’s Justice ministry has been taken
    away from him, meanwhile Mugabe has reassigned and promoted the
    Generation-40 faction,” said Mavhinga.

    Media and political analyst, Maggie Mzumara
    saw the reshuffle as more of a political statement than
    anything else. “Nothing about this reshuffle exercise looks
    geared towards addressing the fundamentals of our ailing
    economy. While the economy burns on, ZANU-PF politics continue
    to hold the nation to ransom with no end in sight for factional
    sideshows,” said Mzumara.

    Over the past week, Zimbabwe has experienced
    rising inflation, a shortage of basic commodities such as
    cooking oil in supermarkets and fuel queues have started to
    emerge. The bond notes introduced last year by the Reserve Bank
    of Zimbabwe (RBZ) have lost their value on the informal market.
    Businesses are struggling to restock, while prices continue to
    sky rocket particularly on new stock due to the difficulties
    companies are facing in accessing foreign currency from the
    RBZ.

    “Zimbabwe, with a collapsed economy needs a
    small, lean and efficient cabinet but Mugabe has bloated his
    cabinet with meaningless posts like Cyber Security just to
    reward his cronies and keep them close,” Mavhinga told Daily
    Maverick
    .

    It is believed that the decisive blow over
    Mugabe’s opponents will probably come after the 2018 harmonised
    elections as acting now can result in serious political
    turbulence.

    Mnangagwa is said to be caught between a rock
    and a hard place. “Mnangagwa’s strategy has been to move
    cautiously and yet his supporters are under siege. He could
    very well be a sitting duck unable to openly challenge Mugabe
    who is playing his cards in the background whilst G-40 is in
    the front,” Mavhinga added. 

    Mavhinga explained that it comes as a relief
    to Mnangagwa’s allies that Mugabe did not go all out for them,
    but it leaves little room for them to do anything that
    would  improve
    their political fortunes.
    DM

    Sally Nyakanyanga is an independent
    journalist and development specialist based in Zimbabwe. She
    covers human rights, gender, developmental or humanitarian
    issues. She has written for
    News Deeply, Africa Renewal,
    Inter Press Services (IPS), Mail and Guardian (Bhekisisa), Irin
    News and Open Democracy

    Photo: Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
    (R) is flanked by his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa (L) as he reads
    a copy of the country’s 2017 National Budget in the house of
    parliament, in Harare, Zimbabwe, 08 December 2016.
    Photo:
    EPA/AARON
    UFUMELI

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