MY THOUGHTS ON THE NEW CABINET
It would be disingenuous for me not to say I am disappointed by the new cabinet but in that very same breath, i understand why. Let me break down how I am looking at this.
Firstly lets get the legal sticklers out of the way, section 104(3) of the Zimbabwean Constitution of 2013 states that the President can only appoint up to 5 Ministers and Deputy Ministers who are not members of the Senate or National Assembly(Parliament) for their competence or skill. My numbers could be wrote but I count 9 new members of cabinet who are not MPs.
The President has a serious legal quagmire there but its trite that he can solve that in a number of ways and as a lawyer himself I’m sure he has worked out a solution there, it would be an embarrassing amateur mistake if he has to be taken to the Constitution Court on his first real Presidential move on something any first year law student can pick up, I have more faith in the man that orchestrated the first peaceful coup not coup on the African continent to worry about that…so let’s relax and move on from that.
In our euphoria and excitement we chose to forget one simple fact about politics(this is still politics people we haven’t all of a sudden transformed into a Utopia, this is not Peter Pan’s Neverland) and in politics, power is retained by patronage, it’s consolidated by placing strategic people in strategic places around you in order to protect your political booty (your loot, prize, gains, spoils of war….get your mind out the gutter). President E.D Mnangagwa is no different, he is not insoluble neither is he naive.
He still respects the art of war and he knows that he still has enemies all around him, he did not get to were he is by putting his guard down. For perfect example, bringing people like the other Godfather of Midlands Cde July Moyo, his utmost loyal confidante and brother, who has not been part of mainstream government for years who former first lady Grace Mugabe blocked from being appointed Minister of State in the VP’s office back in 2015, (he is also Zanu PF’s Deputy Secretary for Administration and a very smooth operator too, Don Corleone has nothing on him the man runs the Midlands and as it turns out he is a successful Kingmaker), just goes to show you that this cabinet is simply put, is a power consolidation exercise and a prize giving ceremony to the hard core #TeamLacostes.
I mean the stern faced army fellow, the Major General Sibusiso Moyo we saw come on Ztv to tell us that “this is not a coup, calm down and let us fix the country for you” is now our new Foreign Affairs Minister for crying out loud, no rocket science there. Yes we all, I mean every single Zimbo I speak to, think Obert Mpofu deserves to be sitting right there next to Ignatius Chombo explaining how his “business acumen” led him to own half of Bulawayo and Victoria Falls but still couldn’t keep a bank opened for longer than 3 years, but the reality is, he is part of the winning team and in politics the winners get a share of the booty, a ministerial appointment is the booty.
Now on a more serious note, it’s important for people not to count out the new President yet. Yes this was an incredible opportunity for him to reinvent the wheel but two important factors have to be concededed. The first is that whether we would like to admit it or not, these older politicians have government experience, they may have not been motivated very much to keep their hands out of the proverbial cookie jars but they certainly know what needs to be done and what’s expected of them.
The President honestly doesn’t have time to try on inexperienced people for size, he 8 months to prove us right or wrong remember, let the man work. Patrick Chinamasa in all fairness is a pretty decent man in the Finance Ministry position, never forget he engineered the implementation of the multi currency system back in 2009 and not Tendai Biti as most people would like to rewrite history. Word is the man as always been constantly frustrated by the former President and could barely do anything outside of Mugabeism policy. Remember the time the two tussled back and forth about civil servant bonuses? These seasoned policitians have the experience and I’m inclined to believe that under a new policy directorate in the new president, we might actually see them do much better than in the previous regime.
The other thing to ease a lot of minds is the understanding of State governance. Ministers are really figureheads, yes we obviously need competent people in cabinet but the real McCoy are the permanent secretaries. Those are the technocrats, educated runners that really work the ministries all behind the scenes and believe me when I tell you this, Zimbabwe has some of the very best minds in the PM positions. PMs (we are talking about Director Generals for my South African readers) in Zimbabwe are genuinely appointed based on competency, skill, experience and education. I invite you to take a look at the profiles of all the
Nigel T. Sithole
current serving PMs and I guarantee you will feel better. So lets not worry too much about the political faces heading the Ministries, it had to be done quite honestly. Even our regional Hero John Magufuli, Tanzania’s urban legend but real life President purged and changed the system from within, he didn’t fire his entire party in order to pan out the awesome reforms we see today, he wouldn’t be President any more if he did. President E.D Mnangagwa needs the Patrick Chinamasas, the Obert Mpofu’s and the Chris Mutsvagwa’s in order to remain by President, he needs them and he knows it.
Let’s wait and see, a little patience my people, the fat lady hasn’t sung yet.
Nigel T. Sithole