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Bloated Unity Government Huge Burden on Taxpayers

THE swearing in of five ministers of state and 19 deputy ministers yesterday by President Robert Mugabe has bloated the inclusive government and will burden the country’s economy.

The government now has 71 ministers, deputy ministers and governors.

There are now 41 ministers, 20 deputy ministers and 10 governors.

The cabinet was appointed at a time when the country is faced with numerous problems, including collapsed health and educational sectors and a cholera epidemic that has left nearly 3 700 people dead and about 79 000 infected by the waterborne disease.

Official vehicles, residences, staff and offices as well as the huge wage bill to accommodate this arrangement will gobble up a large chunk of scarce foreign currency that would have gone a long way in addressing some of the problems afflicting the country.

Deputy ministers and ministers of state — who were not included in the Global Political Agreement signed last September — were sworn in yesterday by President Mugabe at State House.

The ministers of state are John Nkomo (Zanu PF), Sekai Holland (MDC-T) and Gibson Sibanda (MDC), Minister of State in Vice-President Joseph Msika’s office Flora Buka and Minister of State in Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s office Sylvester Nguni.

The deputy ministers sworn in from Zanu PF were Douglas Mombeshora (Health and Child Welfare), Tracy Mutinhiri (Labour and Social Welfare), Lazarus Dokora (Education, Sport, Arts and Culture), and Samuel Undenge (Economic Planning and Development).

Also from Zanu PF were Hubert Nyanhongo (Energy and Power Development), Walter Chidhakwa (State Enterprises and Parastatals), Michael Bimha (Industry and Commerce), Reuben Marumahoko (Regional Integration and International Cooperation), Aguy Georgias (Public Works) and Andrew Langa (Public Service).

Deputy ministers who took the oath of office from the MDC-T were Cecil Zvidzai (Local Government, Urban and Rural Development), Tichaona Mudzingwa (Transport and Infrastructural Development), Murisi Zwizwai (Mines and Mining Development), Jameson Timba (Media, Information and Publicity), Evelyn Masaiti (Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development), Jessie Majome (Justice and Legal Affairs), and Tamsanqa Manhlangu (Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment).

Roy Bennett, who was due to be sworn in as MDC-T Agriculture deputy minister, did not turn up as he is in remand prison on terrorism charges.

MDC deputy ministers who took the oath of office are Lutho Tapela (Higher and Tertiary education) and Moses Mzila Ndlovu (Foreign Affairs).

Giles Mutsekwa also took his oath of office as Home Affairs minister having been out of the country when other ministers were sworn in last week.

The bloated government overturns the agreed allocation of ministers and deputy ministers in the Global Political Agreement as the two main parties feather their political nests.

It was supposed to be 15 ministers and eight deputy ministers for Zanu PF, 13 ministers and six deputy ministers for the MDC-T formation and three ministers and one deputy minister for MDC.

According to political analysts, the bloated government is a damning indictment on the MDC-T formation, which based its 2008 elections campaign on the promise of a trimmed cabinet.

The big government, the analysts added, was likely to be of concern to the international community, making it more difficult for the government to get crucial funding to help kickstart the economy.

Finance minister Tendai Biti would have the unenviable task of revising the budget to accommodate the swollen cabinet.

Economist John Robertson yesterday said the size of government was larger than cabinets in some European countries which were much bigger than Zimbabwe.

 “There are more ministers in this country than there are for bigger countries like Britain, France and Germany.”

Robertson said because of the huge size of the cabinet, the process to make and implement decisions would be ponderous, as it would take a longer period of time to reach consensus.

He said he was dismayed that at a time the government was expected to have a smaller cabinet, there was an added burden on the taxpayer, derailing efforts to turnaround the country’s economy.



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