Zimbabwe’s Cabinet: Understanding Mnangagwa’s balancing act

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa
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LONDON,– On 15 November President Robert Mugabe tendered his resignation letter to the Speaker of Parliament. The resignation was greeted with euphoria which continued until the new President Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn into office.

By Stanley Kwenda,

Like a new sheriff, he briskly went about restoring confidence in and out of Zimbabwe.

The new man seemed to have pressed all the right buttons until he announced his cabinet late last night.

For many people his choices were a great betrayal of their trust.

His presidency had brought a new trajectory. It brought a breath of fresh air. It restored hope but all that was deflated by that late night cabinet announcement.

It doesn’t inspire confidence, investors won’t come and deadwood recycled that were some of the immediate reactions on social media.

Old heads yes, but a new direction and action is what is more pertinent now.

Mnangagwa presented himself as a man of action in his first few days as President. Turning up for work at 7:45 am and undertaking a raft of actions with rapid speed.

It was all magic.

Zimbabweans had been used to a President Robert Mugabe who was absent for much of the last few years so the excitement wasn’t a surprise.

The disappointment of the people is understandable given the travails we have gone through as a nation under Robert Mugabe’s rule.

Amid the disappointment it’s also fair to note that this was never going to be easy for the new President.

He has to perform a balancing act between the party interests and state responsibilities.

He has no mandate of the people of Zimbabwe but that of the ZANU-PF party and to a larger extent, the army who sponsored his path to power.

In ZANU-PF he faces a fractured party and he needed to achieve loyalty through his cabinet choices hence a mix of war veterans and some military men. It is this unenviable task that would to some extent explain the identity of this cabinet.

To expect opposition figures in a ZANU-PF government was a bit far-fetched, even in this era of optimism.

In the bigger picture, what is important is not the identity of the new ministers. What matters is what they will do in the job.

Under Mugabe, they all worked to please him and achieve his goal of retaining power at all costs.

Mnangagwa said he will embark on a different trajectory and it’s up to him as the head of this government to make it work. It’s up to him to give this new cabinet space to work and make the country thrive or fail.

Who cares if a cabinet has war veterans and soldiers if they can deliver jobs, growth, peace and prosperity for the country?

Mugabe has in the past appointed what looked on paper a decent cabinet made up of technocrats but they didn’t achieve anything because he did not give them space to implement progressive policy.

For all you care, Patrick Chinamasa trawled the world trying to restore relations with the key international financial institutions. He even called for a tight fiscal regime but with those policy reform suggestions he became an enemy and Mugabe booted him out of the portfolio in favour loyalist Ignatius Chombo. What we need are not new faces but new ideas, action oriented governance, reform mindedness and acts designed to prosper the country not an individual or a cabal.

The buck stops with Mnangagwa and we are in a very fortunate position because we can judge him and his cabinet at the next elections in just under a year..

For now, what we can do is watch, listen, learn and make up our minds. – The Source