THE new Cabinet will be sworn-in at Sate House today with Zimbabweans across the political divide optimistic that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s new 20-member team will immediately hit the ground running to stabilise the country’s socio-economic environment in the shortest possible time.
BY OBEY MANAYITI/CAJ NEWS
But, the main focus would be on renowned banker-turned Finance minister Mthuli Ncube whose major tasks include restoring economic stability to attract investor confidence, improving liquidity situation, curbing ballooning domestic debt and the parallel monetary market.
The Cabinet, comprising of young technocrats and some old guards, comes at a time when Zimbabwe is going through a litany of challenges, chief among them the economic meltdown that has triggered cash shortages and high unemployment levels.
The liquidity crisis has also given birth to the emergence of the parallel market and multi-tier pricing system.
Respected economist Prosper Chitambara said the Cabinet would only perform to its best if there was political will by the executive and competent technical staff to implement its programmes.
“I think what they must do is to bring back confidence into the economy and what that entails is to have quick institutional reforms to bring back that confidence. Our key institutions of economic governance need to be reformed quickly so that people have confidence in the economy and the way they are managed. These include the parastatals and property rights. They affect confidence and of course there must be political will to deal with corruption and State capture in key institutions,” Chitambara said.
“I think this is a good Cabinet and I am sure what needs to be done as well is to have good permanent secretaries manning the ministries because that is the technical staff. I think if given the space to make the right policy decisions, it will have a positive impact on the economy.”
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Admire Mare, a Zimbabwean academic based in Namibia said the new Cabinet should focus more on infrastructure rehabilitation and development.
“There is also need to revisit our safety net programmes for the poor households and those living with disability. If you walk around the central business district you come face to face with people living with disabilities who are begging. This situation must urgently be addressed,” Mare said.
He called for a revisit to the educational curriculum as well as to invest more in vocational training and making sure institutions of higher learning are able to churn out graduates with the requisite skills to lead the country’s fourth industrial revolution.
“Job creation is one area where the Cabinet has to come up with the ‘war room’ tasked with the role of spearheading the reopening of closed factories and start-up hubs where unemployed graduates can be at the centre of software and hardware design and production,” Mare said.
Union for Democracy executive director, James Katso said if given a way, Mnangagwa would have picked most of his ministers from outside Parliament in order to drive his turn-around vision. “Of course, he had to retain certain individuals who propped him up to his position as the State President in November, the likes of July Moyo (Local Government), Sibusiso Moyo (Foreign Affairs), and Perrance Shiri (Lands and Agriculture) among others, but he also brought into his Cabinet some exceptional and acceptable individuals across the political divide to bridge the gap like Finance minister Mthuli Ncube and Youth, Sport and Arts minister Kirsty Coventry,” he said.
Katso added:“Given their high levels of autonomy there is no doubt that they will deliver. They obviously have to make tough and unfavourable decisions, for instance, dealing with parallel exchange rates, the ballooning domestic debt, dealing with corruption, as well as attracting foreign direct investments.”
Zanu PF’s deputy youth secretary, Lewis Mathuthu, called on citizens to give Mnangagwa’s new brooms a chance to prove their capabilities and judge them by their achievements.
“The President went beyond political affiliation and considered capacity more than anything else; he considered reputation and experience in specific areas like finance where he appointed an experienced banker and economist who is passionate about rebuilding the country. There is hope that the economy will start to boost,” Mathuthu said.
“There are those who say negative things, but there are certain people who just must be ignored because we will end up losing focus. Those who are progressive will tell you that we have the best,” he said.
Opposition Thokozani Khupe’s deputy Obert Gutu (MDC-T) challenged the new Finance minister to prove his mettle and implement strategies that will rescue the country in the shortest possible time.
“The new Cabinet should immediately get its hands very, very dirty. I expect Finance minister Mthuli Ncube to trigger far-reaching financial reforms in the short-term. The bond note should be demonetised like yesterday. The bond note experiment has been an embarrassing flop.
“Within the next 100 days, we expect the foreign currency parallel market to be decapitated. Government should properly and strategically repeal the Indigenisation Act in order to stimulate sustainable domestic and foreign direct investment.”
Gutu said Mnangagwa must appoint a team of capable and credible permanent secretaries in key ministries to drive his vision for a middle-class economy by 2030.
Zimbabwe National Students Union national co-ordinator, Samuel Gwenzi said: “On the economy, there has to be clear structures in place to ensure that they are working to ease the unemployment crisis. Open up and ensure the public scrutinises the mega deals and see how these deals will change the lives of ordinary persons.”
Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation leader, Samuel Wadzai, concurred saying focus must be on creating jobs and strengthening the informal sector.
“The Finance minister must focus on ensuring financial inclusion of the informal sector. There has been general lethargic and slow acceptance of the informal sector, in particular street vendors, as an alternative employment avenue by the previous government. We want solid and inclusive initiatives to support the formalisation and growth of the informal sector,” he said.
Civic group, Community Water Alliance executive, Hardlife Mudzingwa, called on Finance minister to allocate at least 10% of the 2019 National Budget towards provision of water and sanitation facilities.
“We have had more than 10 deaths of cholera and close to 400 cases in Glen View and Budiriro. We had 10 typhoid deaths in Gweru and more than 1 000 cases of affected citizens. We had four [cholera] deaths in Chegutu. Today, Chitungwiza has had five confirmed cholera cases. There are unconfirmed cases in Hwedza,” he said.
Zimbabweans in the Diaspora also welcomed the new Cabinet, saying it was well-balanced.
Luke Dzipange Zunga, South Africa-based chairman of the Global Zimbabwe Diaspora Forum chairman, said: “The Cabinet reduction shows the President is keen to reduce expenditure by the previous over-bloated Cabinet and top heavy government which was responsible for overspending on the National Budget.”
“Zimbabwe requires a President who treads carefully to overcome the suffering, conflict and contestations of the past. The first step is the representative choice of Cabinet ministers, who will be able to bring with them their constituencies.”
But, opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa said: “Anyone who thinks a Cabinet can work miracles, especially when that Cabinet is contested, a disputed Cabinet appointed by a disputed leader cannot produce a result which is credible.”