HomeOpinion & AnalysisAnother Mugabe act of self-preservation

Another Mugabe act of self-preservation


PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s mini Cabinet reshuffle in six months is another attempt at self-preservation rather than a strategy to save the economy and address other challenges facing Zimbabwe today.

Mugabe merely rotated the deadwood that has only succeeded in helping him maintain a tight grip on power and there is absolutely nothing to expect from the new team he has assembled.

Monday’s Cabinet reshuffle was largely expected after Mugabe had frozen out Information minister Jonathan Moyo a fortnight ago amid claims the factional wars in Zanu PF had gone out of hand once again.

The latest reshuffle is the clearest demonstration yet that Mugabe is not moved by the myriad of economic challenges facing Zimbabwe, but in his mind it is the factional wars tearing Zanu PF apart that are more pressing.

His choice of ministers shows that he is not moved by challenges that are threatening to bring Zimbabwe to its knees such as corruption.

The appointment of Ignatius Chombo to head the Home Affairs portfolio exposed Mugabe’s talk about fighting corruption as a mere ruse. Chombo was moved from Local Government after years of hindering the work of urban local authorities to further Zanu PF’s hegemony.

According to some court records filed during his acrimonious divorce with former wife Marian, he also used the time at that ministry to acquire vast tracts of land not only in Harare, but across all of the country’s urban centres. There were unsuccessful attempts to force the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) to investigate Chombo to establish if the acquisition of the land was above board.

Zacc was asked to investigate many other cases where the minister was implicated, but in one occasion it was the complainants who suffered the full wrath of the law. Yet Mugabe has now given Chombo powers over Zacc and the police. After such a masterstroke, there is no prize for guessing what would happen to the alleged corruption cases.

The President also saw it fit to shift Kembo Mohadi to another security ministry despite countless reports that the long-serving minister has been accused of using his position as Home Affairs minister to intimidate his rivals.

Some of the cases have gone to court and the minister lost, but Mugabe has rewarded him with another influential ministry.

Mugabe is the author of most of the problems afflicting Zimbabwe through sins of commission and omission. The latest Cabinet he has put in place would not inspire confidence in investors eyeing Zimbabwe because he simply moved around not only deadwood, but people carrying serious baggage.

Perhaps the only meaningful change he made was that of Moyo, who now heads the Higher and Tertiary Education portfolio because of his qualifications and energy.

After a long absence from Cabinet occasioned by the so-called Tsholotsho Declaration in 2004 that allegedly envisaged a soft coup against Mugabe, Moyo appeared to change tack on his return to the Information portfolio two years ago.

He tried to re-engage the independent media, which he had ostracised and even tried to obliterate during his initial spell at the ministry. Moyo also set up the Information and Media Panel of Inquiry to address the polarisation, lack of professionalism and economic challenges facing the media industry among other things.

He fought a good fight against criminal defamation to the extent that Zimpapers of all media titles took Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa to try and force him to strike off the draconian law from the statute books. The initiatives had instilled renewed hope in the media industry and he was seen as a changed man.

However, Moyo’s handling of the commercial radio licences and the relapse of the State media to its old divisive self had destroyed the few positives. Moyo was back to his quarrelsome self and was clearly no longer the best person for the Information portfolio.

The rest of the changes are a damp squib.

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