HARARE - There was high anticipation that President Robert Mugabe would announce his new Cabinet at the weekend but Zimbabweans were disappointed when the 89-year-old leader failed to do so raising speculation that he is struggling to come up with an acceptable team.
A month after Mugabe won the July 31 disputed polls, government operations are virtually at a standstill as the Zanu PF leader is reportedly battling to come up with a Cabinet.
He is said to be coming up with a team which caters for factions in his party, tribal considerations, loyalists and deadwood, some of whom have been ministers since 1980.
At the same time, Mugabe is said to be considering a development Cabinet which will see radical changes in the ministries in a bid to win investor confidence.
Mugabe has already said that he would not appoint candidates who lost elections to Cabinet posts.
The president is empowered to appoint five non-constituency Members of Parliament and hopes are high that he will consider technocrats in industry who will turn around the economy.
Investors have been trading cautiously since the July 31 harmonised election, a development that has impacted negatively on the economy.
A top government official told the Daily News yesterday that Mugabe was battling to balance his options.
“From the day election results were announced, there has been massive lobbying for cabinet posts and the old man himself has to make astute appointments otherwise the country will slide into economic chaos.
Yes, there are loyalists and hardliners who helped him win elections, but he has to bring in new people with new ideas.
“The President is aware that bringing back the likes of Didymus Mutasa, Emmerson Mnangagwa, Nicholas Goche, Sydney Sekeramayi, Saviour Kasukuwere, Olivia Muchena, Ignatius Chombo and many others like them will bring him loyalty but honestly speaking, re-appointing these people will be like saying to hell with everyone.
“He has to bring in technocrats and young Zanu PF Members of Parliament who won in the harmonised elections. But cabinet has to be appointed and talk around Munhumutapa Building is that it will be announced this week any day from tomorrow (today). The president is keeping everyone guessing,” said the source.
Other officials who spoke to the Daily News said Mugabe’s delay was due to the fact that the Zanu PF strong man was also considering persuading MDC officials to join government after the success of the unity government.
Political analysts say the economy which had begun to show signs of recovery during the four year period of the coalition government is slowly collapsing.
Political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme says Mugabe is in a catch 22 situation as he is facing pressure to balance his appointment based on different interests of the factions within his party.
“The new cabinet is very crucial for him in terms of succession and his legacy. It also makes sense that he will be looking at accommodating some officials from the MDC as the issues around the economy require that he extends his invitation for ministerial posts to the opposition. He needs everyone to get the economy right,” Saungweme said.
He added that; “At his age and given the complications in his party and the economy, it makes sense that he takes all the time he needs to appoint the right people to the right positions.”
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Shakespear Hamauswa concurred with Saungwemwe.
He said Mugabe has to seriously evaluate his appointees because the status of the economy requires that he appoints ministers who can deliver.
“There are intellectuals and war veterans who Mugabe has to reward. The security sector, the likes of Oliver Mandipaka and others will also be looking forward to being rewarded and there is of course the Unity Accord which poses another challenge for him when appointing ministers. There are also constitutional provisions which require him to consider gender balance,” Hamauswa said.
In a post on his Facebook page, the faceless but popular Baba Jukwa who enjoys cult hero status among Zimbabweans yesterday said Zimbabweans may even wait for the end of September before the swearing in of government ministers.
“Zimbabwe, the coming few days are days of intense suspense. As we speak I tell you all that Mugabe has proposed retaining Tsvangirai’s successor apparent Tendai Biti in the Finance Ministry. Other MDC officials from Tsvangirai and Ncube factions are also under consideration; but it will be an embarrassment if the offers are made and then rejected. George Charamba dreads this happening and they have all admitted in meetings this past week,” Baba Jukwa said in a Facebook post yesterday.