PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa finally announced his long-awaited Cabinet, which, however, turned out to be a damp squib, if the response by majority of Zimbabweans is anything to go by.
They cannot be blamed for feeling hard done by especially after the President promised a lean Cabinet yet at the end, some of the old faces in the new Cabinet are, according to the public, suspect. Zimbabweans expected a major departure from the past in many respects.
Hence, the expectant Zimbabweans were disappointed, and justifiably so, when they realised that the dominant faces under normal circumstances should be retired from government employ. However, we will give the Cabinet the benefit of the doubt given some of them actually have a good track record.
Mnangagwa had fired warning shots in his maiden speech, promising a new culture in government. There was a lot of expectation that his government would be dominated by technocrats rather than the same old politicians unlikely to bring in new ideas.
No doubt, we could see there were probably strenuous efforts to strike a balancing act, bringing in a few new faces and trimming the number of ministers while slashing several deputy ministers. Perhaps, the President’s best was not good enough or is yet to come. We urge Zimbabweans to remain focused, optimistic that things will change, and that perhaps Mnangagwa felt that if he had brought in completely new faces that could compromise government deliverables, especially seeing that he has only eight or so months before he calls for national elections.
Politics is a gamble, if this team delivers, then Mnangagwa will no doubt become the darling of the people. His team better delivers!
What needs to be explained is particularly the inclusion of Air Force of Zimbabwe Commander Air Marshal Perrance Shiri and Major General Sibusiso Busi Moyo in the new Cabinet line-up, which may give the impression the appointments were not based on competence and proven track records, but rewarding them for their roles in ushering the new political dispensation. Clearly, Shiri was the face behind command agriculture, we hope he will continue to ensure food security. Is Mnangagwa his own man or Zimbabwe has morphed into a military state? With the elections coming, will the military accept the will of the people suppose Zanu PF loses? Is Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces General Constantino Chiwenga also coming in as Vice-President and how do these developments portray the country globally?
We believe what could be Mnangagwa’s saving grace is that even though this is a team dominated by the old guard, there is need to change the way they have been doing things. It cannot be business as usual given the myriad of challenges facing this nation.
If the new government sticks to the old ways, chances are high that they will dash all hopes of international re-engagement, given that the international community has welcomed the change in leadership and even hinted at the possibility of embracing Zimbabwe back into the community of nations, from where it had long become a pariah. Mnangagwa cannot afford to blow away such a golden opportunity.
The new ministers must be constantly monitored to ensure they deliver and if they fail to justify their inclusion in government, they should be booted out. It is unfortunate that some of the recycled “deadwood” were pillars of ex-President Robert Mugabe’s successive regimes, or fingered in corruption and the nation would be happier to see their backs.
What is quite clear is that this is a delicate phase that needs to be negotiated skilfully, and the new Cabinet will either boost or destroy the legacy that Mnangagwa has been given an opportunity to build.