PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa is under pressure from senior Zanu PF officials to reshuffle cabinet, which has failed to turn around the imploding economy, the Zimbabwe Independent understands.
Mnangagwa, who swept to power through a military coup in November 2017 which toppled long-time ruler Robert Mugabe, is struggling to stem and reverse the economic meltdown.
This comes at a time some senior Zanu PF officials, who fought in Mnangagwa’s corner in the race to succeed Mugabe, feel they should get a slice of the cake given the role they played and the fact that cabinet ministers are failing to deliver.
Several party heavyweights and former ministers, among them Obert Mpofu, Simon Khaya Moyo, Patrick Chinamasa, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Paul Mangwana, were deployed to work full-time for Zanu PF although they preferred cabinet posts.
The current cabinet has served for five months and critics say its ministers have already proven their incompetence by failing to turn around Zimbabwe’s fortunes.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba said Mnangagwa had not spoken about a cabinet reshuffle.
However, Charamba said some officials are eyeing ministerial jobs.
“Not that he would tell us before doing it, but there is no reshuffle. It’s just a case of some people who are pushing for posts,” Charamba said.
There were high hopes for the revival of Zimbabwe’s economy after Mnangagwa announced his cabinet in September, but that hope has been deflated as the country’s problems have been escalating.
In recent months, Zimbabweans have grappled with massive price increases and shortages of basic commodities, including bread, amid rising inflationary pressures. Fuel has been in short supply.
Mnangagwa last month announced a 150% increase in the price of petrol and diesel, which sparked riots and pushed down demand.
The fuel price increase triggered protests which were violently crushed by the military and police, triggering worldwide condemnation of the government. The government has
also had to contend with strikes by medical doctors and teachers.
One of the ministries that have been giving Mnangagwa headaches and might get a shake-up is Information, whose officials including the minister Monica Mutsvangwa and her deputy Energy Mutodi have been engaged in public squabbles.
The chaotic communication in that ministry has also created discord and controversy around government policy announcements.
It has also caused confusion between departments with Charamba dismissing information posted on Mnangagwa’s Twitter account, while the Information ministry Twitter page re-affirms the same information.
And in light of the security sector instability in the country, Home Affairs minister Cain Mathema is also under scrutiny. The police have been accused of brutalising civilians and failing to handle protests during the stayaway last month.
Following criticism by the international community and local human rights groups, after accusations of rape, killings and abductions by military personnel, Zimbabwe’s first female Defence minister, Oppah Muchinguri, is also under pressure.
It is not clear whether Mnangagwa’s top ally, Owen Ncube, who orchestrated the illegal cutting off of internet connectivity in a futile attempt to facilitate a crackdown on civilians away from the glare of the international community, will remain as Minister of State for National Security in the President’s Office.
Industry and Commerce minister Mangaliso Ndlovu’s head also seems to be on the chopping block as he is largely seen as clueless.
Health minister Obadiah Moyo, whose credentials have been questioned by doctors, has had a torrid time as he failed to address doctors’ grievances, resulting in a 40-day
strike. The prolonged strike resulted in many patients being turned away from public hospitals leading to loss of life.
Apart from the cabinet ministers, some deputy ministers’ jobs might also be hanging by a thread as most of them have not been visible.
The 13 deputy ministers are Victor Matemadanda (Defence), Jennifer Mhlanga (Local Government), Lovemore Matuke (Public Service), Rajeshukumar Modi (Industry), Edgar Moyo
(Primary and Secondary Education), Douglas Kasoro and Vanelis Harritatos (Lands), Polite Kambamura (Mines), Magna Mudyiwa (Energy), Fortune Chasi (Transport), Jerifan Muswere (ICT) and Yeukai Simbanegavi (Sports).