HomeLocal NewsMugabe’s agony in selecting ministers

Mugabe’s agony in selecting ministers

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe reportedly agonised in coming up with a new cabinet — something which took 40 days after the July 31 general elections and 20 days following his inauguration — as he battled with spirited lobbies and how to balance competing interests.

Brian Chitemba

Sources said one of the main difficulties which delayed Mug-abe in announcing his new team was appointing a Minister of State Security.
After initially failing to deal with the issue, he ended up reserving the job for himself and Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa.

It is said Mugabe’s task to appoint the intelligence minister was made difficult by Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s lobby for him to select Zanu PF Mashonaland East chairperson, businessman and former Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operative Ray Kaukonde.

Sources said Mugabe also had headaches as he tried to juggle rewarding party loyalists behind his controversial re-election, ensuring regional and ethnic balance, injecting young blood, retaining his old guard loyalists and experience, and striking a gender balance, among other issues.
As a result of lobbying and trying to balance competing interests, Mugabe took longer than necessary to appoint his team, although the veteran leader said he was delayed by “steps and other motions” which the process goes through.

“You don’t set up the cabinet until the steps and other motions have gone through. Every member of the cabinet, except five of them or three of them, had to be sworn in first, they had to become MPs, sworn in, and the swearing in took place on Tuesday,” he said.

“So it was only after that had happened that I was in a position to say that these now are valid MPs. So yesterday (Tuesday) we set up the cabinet and today (Wednesday) the swearing in now which they have to do as cabinet ministers was done.”

Official sources say Mugabe also got caught up in a difficult task which saw him offer former Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa the Finance ministry, which he declined, before giving it to Patrick Chinamasa.

Sources said the appointment of the new cabinet was characterised by intrigue and intense lobbying behind the scenes with Mujuru reportedly playing a major role, while Senior minister Simon Khaya Moyo, who is also Zanu PF chairman and head of the party’s National Elections Directorate, was also involved, especially in lobbying for his new ally Jonathan Moyo’s comeback which Mugabe was well-disposed to anyway. Khaya Moyo and Jonathan Moyo are said to be now very close.

A senior government official said the “final” list kept changing in the last few days before the announcement, particularly after Mujuru came onto the scene. The official said Mujuru visited State House on Monday and Tuesday where she reportedly influenced the final cabinet line-up.

“The list that President Mugabe had last Friday when he was at the Defence College is different from the final one that was announced,” the official said. “Some people were added to the list while others were moved to different ministries.”

The officials said one of the last minute changes to list was the addition of Dzikamai Mavhaire as Energy minister. The portfolio was initially earmarked for former Transport minister Nicholas Goche who eventually ended up at Labour. Mujuru reportedly had a major influence in the removal of ex-Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere who was demoted to the less influential Environment, Water and Climate ministry.

Sources said Mujuru was however rebuffed on the Kaukonde issue.
“The president refused to budge to appoint Kaukonde Minister of State Security following serious lobbying by Mujuru as it became clear she had a vested interest in the intelligence portfolio,” one source said.

“The late former army commander General Solomon Mujuru also failed in the past to ensure Kaukonde became intelligence minister. Before Mutasa was put there in 2005 prior to (new Defence minister Sydney) Sekeremayi coming back to State Security, Kaukonde was supposed to get in.”

The late Mujuru reportedly influenced Mugabe to appoint current CIO director-general Happyton Bonyongwe and his predecessor Elisha Muzonzini, who both have an army background.

The state security portfolio was not on the list distributed to journalists on Tuesday after the ministers and their deputies received their appointment letters, leading to public speculation Mugabe was still to decide on it.

However, Mugabe told journalists on Wednesday: “There is no vacancy. It has been always under the President’s Office. Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa will be in charge of the affairs, together with me. In other countries, they don’t even appoint a minister (for state security).”

Mujuru also reportedly failed to pressure Mugabe to keep Webster Shamu, who was shunted to ICT, as Information minister because Khaya Moyo fought to ensure Jonathan Moyo bounced back.

Sources said regional and ethnic balances were key in Mugabe’s appointments as he grappled to come up with the list. Mugabe admitted he had to balance his appointments on regional lines after Zanu PF seized provinces previously held by the MDC-T. He also admitted party loyalty and long-service — patronage — were critical in his appointments.

“You want to know how I chose my ministers? The party that won is Zanu PF. So when I selected ministers, I was looking at how much of Zanu PF are you? How long have you been with us? Experience in the party and how educated you are,” he said.

“We also ensured that all provinces are represented as much as possible, at least three ministers in a province.”

Mugabe appointed five ministers and three deputies from Mashonaland West, four ministers and four deputies from Manicaland, four ministers and four deputies from Mashonaland East, three ministers and four deputies from Mashonanald Central, three ministers and five deputies from Masvingo, four ministers and two deputies from Midlands, three ministers and one deputy from Matabeleland South, three ministers from Matabeleland North and one deputy from Harare.

Most of the new ministers are aligned to the Mujuru faction as the Mnangagwa camp largely got crumbs.

Out of his 26-member cabinet, Mugabe only appointed three women, a move he defended, saying there were “just not enough” women to appoint.

He however used the option to appoint five ministers out of parliament to bring in Moyo, Joseph Made (Agriculture), Lazarus Dokora (Lower Education), Martin Dinha (Mashonaland Central provincial minister) and Faber Chidarikire (Mashonaland West provincial minister).

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