Three days of national suspense ended on Monday when President Mugabe reshuffled his Cabinet, rewarding hard workers, dropping poor performers and reassigning others.
He had promised, while addressing the Zanu-PF Youth League national assembly in Harare on Saturday that he would this week review the performance of his team, a review which he said could see some being moved or removed from Cabinet. Amid the anxiety, names were mentioned of the figures that the public believed performed well and those that they believed hadn’t and those from outside Cabinet who they felt deserved to be appointed ministers.
Much of the speculation was on the Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Finance and Economic Development and War Veterans portfolios. Ambassador Simon Khaya Moyo was the public’s favourite for the media and information ministry and the people were spot on. The public also correctly foresaw the dropping of Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube from the post of Minister of Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Former Political Detainees and Restrictees but not of Cde Prisca Mupfumira from the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare portfolio.
The President reassigned 10 ministers and made eight new appointments.
Ambassador Moyo was moved from the Ministry of Policy Co-ordination and Promotion of Socio-Economic Ventures in the President’s Office to replace Dr Christopher Mushohwe who is now Minister of State in the President’s Office Responsible for National Scholarships.
Dr Ignatius Chombo is the new Minister of Finance and Economic Development. He took over from Cde Patrick Chinamasa who has been moved to the newly formed Ministry of Cyber Security, Threat Detection and Mitigation.
Dr Obert Mpofu moved from the Ministry of Macro-Economic Planning and Investment Promotion to replace Dr Chombo as Home Affairs Minister. Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, who was Minister of Foreign Affairs, succeeded Dr Mpofu. Dr Walter Mzembi switched from the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry to Foreign Affairs.
The President also reassigned Cde Patrick Zhuwao to the Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare.
Cde Saviour Kasukuwere is now the Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and National Housing while Cde Makhosini Hlongwane’s new portfolio is Minister of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture.
The new appointees are Cde Cain Mathema (Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Former Political Detainees), Retired Major General Happyton Bonyongwe (Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs), Cde Chiratidzo Mabuwa (Youth Development Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment) and Cde Edgar Mbwembwe (Tourism, Environment and Hospitality Industry).
Provincial ministers appointed are Cde Thokozile Mathuthu (Matabeleland North), Dr Paul Chimedza (Masvingo), Ambassador Aaron Maboyi Ncube (Matabeleland South) and Cde Webster Shamu (Mashonaland West).
We are hopeful that the refreshed Cabinet will move the business of Government forward, working with a oneness of purpose. We are also hopeful that the new Cabinet ministers Cde Mabuwa, Rtd Maj-Gen Bonyongwe, Cde Mathema and Cde Mbwebwe will come up with fresh ideas that would be instrumental in moving the country forward.
Cde Mabuwa really distinguished herself in her previous position as Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce. She diligently performed her duties as assigned by the President. We recall her two-month assignment to Bulawayo around July and August when she toured companies in the city to establish how they were operating, the successes and challenges. She visited dozens of firms and got an idea how they operate and we are confident that her exhaustive work yielded a detailed report that will give the President the correct picture of the situation on the ground and form the basis for winning interventions.
The President should have been impressed by her work as we have been and he rewarded her.
“I know that a lot of work has been done and a lot of work still needs to be done,” she said.
“My predecessors did a lot of work. It’s about taking the baton stick and not stopping but moving to the next level. We are aiming for the finishing line. It’s not about comparing and saying this person was doing what and I am going to do that. They have given me a baton stick and I am happy that I have been given the baton stick by a motivated young man who was running the Ministry. I ought to ‘remove’ some of my years and be young in order to fit into his shoes.”
Ambassador Moyo has been involved in Government work and specifically the information sector for a long time. He is serving as Zanu-PF national spokesman, a job that he has been doing most diligently. He is a vastly experienced, grounded cadre who should do well in steering the activities of this key portfolio.
Dr Chombo has an immense challenge. The economy is facing a number of challenges — the cash shortage is persisting, industrial capacity utilisation is improving but every sensible person would not overlook the attendant constraints, limited investment inflows and the not-so-pleasing public confidence in the economy that was dramatised in that week recently when prices shot up on social media speculation.
The issue of social media brings us to the new ministry that Cde Chinamasa has been mandated to lead. It is a very critical portfolio which demonstrates the President’s preparedness to tackle the new national security challenges that the new media pose. Social media can collapse a country like it did during the Arab Spring seven years ago and like what saboteurs tried to do a few weeks ago. Threats to national security are evolving, they are no longer about defending our air space or our physical boundaries. Cyber space is a new frontier that any serious governments must keep an eye on.