DIVISIONS have rocked government over a looming cabinet reshuffle amid revelations that senior government officials, including those aligned to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, were wheedling President Robert Mugabe to effect the proposed changes whereas other officials believe another reshuffle would make government appear like a circus.
Mugabe has the prerogative of reshuffling his cabinet, like he did in December after firing then Vice-President Joice Mujuru and several ministers linked to her among them Didymus Mutasa, Nicholas Goche, Francis Nhema, Olivia Muchena, Webster Shamu and Dzikamai Mavhaire.
He was, however, expected to reshuffle his cabinet in January soon after returning from holiday in the Far East, but is bidding his time amid fights pitting rival government officials.
Talk of a cabinet reshuffle has unsettled several ministers who were linked to Mujuru, among them Education minister Lazarus Dokora and Sports minister Andrew Langa, while the Mnangagwa group is also reportedly campaigning for Information minister Jonathan Moyo to be moved from his portfolio which they claim he is using to attack Mnangagwa.
The Zimbabwe Independent understands the proposed reshuffle would result in the faction controlled by Mnangagwa, which already dominates cabinet, the Zanu PF politburo, central committee as well as the party’s provincial structures, consolidating its grip on the party and government as more members are likely to be elevated.
Potential beneficiaries of the reshuffle include long-time Zanu PF chief whip Joram Gumbo, Monica Mutsvangwa, Daniel Shumba and July Moyo.
“Those pushing for the reshuffle believe the cabinet is unbalanced. They also doubt the competencies of some of their colleagues who were appointed but lack vital skills. A cabinet reshuffle is also seen as an opportunity to reward some party officials who have stuck by Mnangagwa’s side through thick and thin,” said a government official.
But some officials have however advised Mugabe that another reshuffle would make him appear confused given that he reshuffled his cabinet only in December.
He appointed Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko as his deputies, while appointing new ministers in Prisca Mupfumira (Public Service), Samuel Undenge (Energy and Power Development), Chris Mushohwe (Indigenisation), Supa Mandiwanzira (Information, Communication Technology) and Chris Mutsvangwa (Welfare Services for War Veterans).
There is also belief First lady Grace Mugabe would be appointed into cabinet, possibly to fill the vacant Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development ministry but she reportedly prefers a more powerful portfolio.
However, government officials believe Grace will play an important role in the cabinet reshuffle and will determine who gets what post, as her influence over Mugabe has increased in tandem with his advanced age.