25 August 2002

ZIMBABWE: New government without Makoni

President Mugabe last night booted finance minister Simba Makoni from his government in a cabinet reshuffle that offered no prospects of pulling Zimbabwe out of its economic quagmire. In a long-awaited cabinet reshuffle that remained a secret to The Standard up to late last night, Mugabe off loaded Makoni from his cabinet, two months after labelling him a saboteur. Mugabe, who is pushing ahead with his controversial land grab exercise, recalled Herbert Murerwa to the finance ministry he left some years ago. Makoni, a reformist who had tried to steer the country away from Zanu PF's suicidal economic policies that have turned the country into a basket case, incurred the wrath of Mugabe when he called for the devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar a few months ago. Officially opening the fifth parliament last month, Mugabe said anyone calling for the devaluation of the worthless dollar was a saboteur and an enemy of his government.

The embattled leader who is facing increasing opposition from many countries, however, retained faith in the three musketeers: information minister Jonathan Moyo, agriculture minister Joseph Made and justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, hand-picked for his cabinet after the June 2000 parliamentary elections. The three have been staunch Zanu PF apologists. Made, blamed for the food crisis, will be aided by Flora Bhuka who has been appointed minister of state for the land reform programme, a new portfolio that places emphasis on Mugabe's agrarian reform programme. Elliot Manyika, whose youth brigades have caused mayhem across the country also retained his post as minister of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation and will be deputised by Shuvai Mahofa. However, against all predictions, Mugabe demoted Zanu PF national chairman and home affairs minister, John Nkomo who with Mnangagwa had been tipped as his possible successor.

Nkomo, a key figure in Mugabe's party, was relegated to junior minister in a new obscure ministry entitled Special Affairs in the president's office. He had been regarded by analysts as one of the few level-headed politicians among the praise singers and sycophants that surrounded the ageing leader. Nkomo, observers said, had become a victim of the power game within the ruling party. Seen as a reasonable successor to Mugabe, Nkomo ruffled the feathers of other presidential hopefuls including vice-president Msika and parliamentary speaker, Emmerson Mnangagwa when he successfully worked out a south-south cooperation agreement with former Zanu PF supremo Eddison Zvobgo. This alliance made it easy for him to win the support of the majority in the ruling party. Observers noted that Nkomo's growing popularity within the party had alarmed Msika and Mnangagwa who might have worked to sideline him. Nkomo's position has been taken by Kembo Mohadi, former local government deputy minister.

Muzenda, on the other hand also consolidated his power base with the inclusion of a number of his allies who include Chief Fortune Charumbira, a vocal member of the Hungwe faction who is now the deputy minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing. The ailing minister of Health and Child Welfare, Timothy Stamps has also been dropped and replaced by his former deputy, David Parirenyatwa who has been effectively running the ministry of late. Those who remain in their ministries are: Sydney Sekeremayi, Aeneas Chigwedere, Francis Nhema, Stan Mudenge, Ignatius Chombo, July Moyo, Joyce Mujuru, and Nicholas Goche. Sam Mumbengegwi is now the minister of Industry and International Trade while Edward Chindori Chininga is now the minister of Mines and Mining Development. Amos Midzi, who lost the Harare mayoral election is now the minister of Energy and Power Development.

Mugabe also appointed six new deputy ministers who include Kenneth Manyonda, the MP for Buhera North who was appointed to a new post of deputy minister of Industry and International Trade. Reuben Marumahoko, the MP for Hurungwe East was appointed deputy minister of Energy and Power Development. The MP for Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe, Kenneth Mutiwekuziva, is now the deputy minister of the superfluous ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises Development headed by Paul Mangwana. Mutiwekuziva's constituency supposedly garnered the highest votes in the presidential elections for Mugabe. The booting out of Makoni and the demotion of Nkomo, two men seen as somewhat level-headed and reformist in the old cabinet and their replacement with tired horses reinforces Mugabe's hard line stance. The long-awaited reshuffle has been described by commentators as a non-event which came as a big yawn to Zimbabweans who had hoped for a progressive and forward-looking cabinet. (ZWNews / Zimbabwe Standard)

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