Confusion hits ED's new govt

HARARE - President Emmerson Mnangagwa has made a sudden U-turn on some of his Cabinet appointments to avoid falling afoul of the supreme law of the land.

In terms of section 104(3) of the national charter, the president can only appoint a maximum of five Cabinet ministers outside Parliament, based on their special skills.

Mnangagwa had, however, appointed eight ministers who are not Members of Parliament, in contravention of the Constitution.

Barely 48 hours after releasing his new Cabinet list, the president has reversed three appointments that were ultra-vires the charter – triggering widespread condemnation.

In a statement, the chief secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, said the adjustments “have been made to ensure compliance with the Constitution and consideration of gender, demography and special needs”.

The biggest loser is former Primary and Secondary Education minister, Lazarus Dokora — whose appointment had caused widespread consternation.

Dokora was replaced by his former deputy Paul Mavima, an academic who represents Gokwe Sengwa constituency in the National Assembly.

He lost his Rushinga National Assembly constituency to former security man, Wonder Mashange, in the 2013 general elections but was given the Cabinet portfolio by ex-president, Robert Mugabe.

Mnangagwa also dropped Clever Nyathi from the ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, replacing him with former deputy minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development in Mugabe’s post 2013 Cabinet, Petronella Kagonye.

Nyathi will assume the role of special advisor in the Office of the President on national peace and reconciliation, which according to Sibanda’s statement, is expected to be headed by a vice president to be appointed at the Zanu PF extraordinary congress scheduled for next week.

The outspoken chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, Chris Mutsvangwa, has also been removed as minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services.

The ministry has been left vacant for now.

Mutsvangwa, played an influential role in the demise of Mugabe. He will now serve as special advisor to the president.

Long-serving Zanu PF politburo member, Joshua Malinga’s appointment as deputy minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, has also been reversed and he will now work as special advisor in the Office of the President on disability issues.

Sibanda also announced in the same statement that the newly-appointment ministers will be sworn into office tomorrow morning at State House.

Observers have queried the wisdom of the initial appointments, especially given that Mnangagwa professes legal expertise.

Women’s groups have also cried foul after Mnangagwa appointed only three women to his 22-member Cabinet.

Mnangagwa’s decisions have attracted scornful responses from former senior government officials, including Arthur Mutambara, the former deputy prime minister during the ill-fated inclusive government of 2009-2013.

“Just a word of caution, the Cabinet adjustments this morning have nothing to do with outcry about the quality of ministers. The adjustments are meant to address the illegality of the Cabinet. Dokora frees a non-constituent slot, while Nyathi and Mutsvangwa are no longer ministers,” Mutambara tweeted yesterday.

Former Industry and Commerce minister and MDC president, Welshman Ncube also apparently mockingly tweeted: “A lawyer president did not know the Constitution?”

Although Mnangagwa has made some minor gender adjustments by bringing in Kagonye, he still remains under criticism for apparently failing to adhere to a constitutional requirement which mandates him to also balance the regional appeal.

For instance, Masvingo and Mashonaland Central provinces have only one Cabinet slot each while his own home province of Midlands now has four ministers following the elevation of Mavhima.

The others are Jorum Gumbo (Transport and Infrastructural Development), Sibusiso Moyo (Foreign Affairs) and July Moyo (Local Government).

Section 104(4) of the Constitution says: “In appointing ministers and deputy ministers, the president must be guided by considerations of regional and gender balance.”

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