Emmerson Mnangagwa's new cabinet 'a sign of shifting power'

09 September 2018 - 00:00 By JAMES THOMPSON

President Emmerson Mnangagwa's 20-member cabinet, to be sworn in today, is a mix of new faces, technocrats and loyalists.
One of his boldest moves was to take the defence ministry away from Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, a retired army general. After November's military intervention that led to the departure of president Robert Mugabe, Chiwenga became vice-president as well as de facto defence minister, a move that lawyers said violated the constitution.
Zanu-PF national chair Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri, Zimbabwe's first woman defence minister, is one of Mnangagwa's five special appointments, as she is not an MP.
Several Zanu-PF heavyweights, such as Obert Mpofu, Patrick Chinamasa, Chris Mutsvangwa, Simon Khaya Moyo, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Josiah Hungwe, Chris Mushowe and Mike Bimha, have been left out of the new cabinet.
Political commentator Innocent Ncube said this was a sign that power had shifted to the party's politburo, where most of the omitted senior figures are influential.
"Zanu-PF policy is formulated in the politburo, that's where there's real power. Under Mugabe, most politburo members became ministers. This time it's not the case."
The big surprise in the new cabinet is the appointment of Mthuli Ncube as minister of finance & economic development. Ncube is a former chief economist and vice-president of the African Development Bank.
Days before his appointment, Ncube said Zimbabwe's economic recovery relied on dumping its "bad money", the bond note.
Commentators said he could find himself at odds with Zanu-PF, as he is not a party member. "As long as theft, corruption and violence remain the DNA of Zanu-PF, [Ncube] will fail," said analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya.
Olympic gold medallist swimmer Kirsty Coventry is the new minister of arts, sport & youth, her first political job.
Mnangagwa said he hoped his cabinet was up to the task. "I appointed a diverse, dynamic, youthful and streamlined cabinet with the skills and experience required to achieve our goals," he tweeted. 
Opposition politician David Coltart said: "It's good that it is only 20, no Mpofu or Chinamasa, good finance and sports ministers in Ncube and Kirsty Coventry. So overall an improvement on the last one."

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