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Ahead of the Cabinet announcement, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s spokesman had said we should not expect any major surprises in Cabinet.
The surprises did come though, and not in a positive way – the announcement of two family members as deputy ministers, the dropping of the Mines Minister, and the President’s insistence on sticking to poor performers.
Here are our key takeaways from Mnangagwa’s Cabinet announcement.
Mthuli back in the seat
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube is back as Minister of Finance and Investment Promotion. Investment promotion agency, ZIDA, now falls directly under his Ministry. His deputy is David Kuda Mnangagwa, the president’s 34-year-old son, who came in to Parliament as youth quota MP for Midlands. He is an actuary, a graduate of Drake University, and worked at Aon Insurance in the US between 2011 and 2014. He also completed a law degree recently at UZ. He runs a private equity firm, Flame-Lily Venture Capital, and has previously sat on the board of the National Building Society.
Winston Chitando has been dropped as Mines Minister. His appointment in 2017 was welcomed widely by the mining sector. He had worked as a mining executive for years and was seen as an industry expert. He has presided over the growth of the sector, but failed to have a rein over illegal activity in the politically sensitive sector. He is now Local Government Minister.
His replacement is a surprise; Zhemu Soda has hardly had a stellar turn at Energy, but now takes charge of a ministry that’s key to Zimbabwe’s economic growth.
*Low Energy Appointments, Industry Uninspiring*
The new Minister of Energy is Edgar Moyo, a former deputy Education Minister. He has the task of solving the energy crisis. Hwange needs further investment, while Kariba may generate less power over the coming months due to low water levels.
Mnangagwa appointed Sthembiso Nyoni as new Industry Minister. She has spent decades as Women’s and SMEs Minister. Her shift is a surprise, but her record at that ministry is unlikely to convince industry that it has a new active champion that it can depend on.
*New Man At Information, But Don’t Expect Much*
Monica Mutsvangwa has been moved from the Ministry of Information to Women’s Affairs. Earlier this year, in a speech, Mnangagwa complained that his information department was not doing enough to sell his programmes. Her removal from the post is a win for a faction in Mnangagwa’s office, who had fought her for control of government’s information levers.
Her replacement is Jenfan Muswere, who moves from ICT. He frequently deputised for Mutsvangwa at the weekly Cabinet press briefings, a task he often struggled with when giving the Cabinet read-out and managing journalists’ questions. He has a task to rework a department that has presided over rusty PR and worsening standards at state media.
Muswere is a favourite of Mnangagwa; when he lost in the ZANU PF primaries in Makoni West, the winner, Moses Ruwona, was arrested and Muswere was imposed as candidate.
*An Ally At Justice*
Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi lost ZANU PF party primaries in Zvimba West. Attempts to save him via a rerun showed he was still in favour. This is not surprising, after he spent the last five years ramming through various legislation to deepen Mnangagwa’s hold on power. Ziyambi showed his allegiance after being wheeled out to attack observer reports in the post-election period. His deputy is lawyer Norbert Mazungunye, MP of Mazowe South. In the ZANU PF primaries, Mazungunye beat Fortune Chasi, who once held the role of Deputy Justice Minister.
*Studio 4 ED: Tatenda Mavetera*
Tatenda Mavetera is credited for starting the “4ED” groups, when she launched her “Young Women 4 ED” grouping in 2021. Her outfit successfully mobilised many women’s groups to support Mnangagwa, leading to a spawn of similar outfits. In the ZANU PF primaries, she surprised by beating John Mangwiro, the deputy Health Minister, in Chikomba West.
She has a Masters in Marketing from Midlands State University, and is a former actress in the Studio 263 soapie.
*Swimming Against The Tide: Kirsty Coventry*
Kirsty Coventry’s time as Sports Minister has seen Zimbabwe banned from football and the collapse of stadia. Asked why he has kept her, Mnangagwa’s response insisted she did a good job.
“When a Minister is appointed, they report to the appointer. It is me who gets satisfied whether a Minister is doing well or not. The fact that I’ve reappointed her means I’m satisfied,” Mnangagwa said.
*Where Is State Security?*
Last year, Mnangagwa sacked his Minister of State in Charge of State Security, ally Owen ‘Mudha’ Ncube. Since then, he has not appointed a replacement. That function sits in his office. Ncube has been reappointed Minister of State for Midlands, a post he has held before.
*The Cabinet Juggle*
Mnangagwa is allowed to appoint seven ministers from outside parliament. Some Ministers lost their seats ahead of the election.
In 2018, Mnangagwa’s non-constituency MPs – five were allowed then – were Ncube, Amon Murwira as Higher Education Minister, Coventry, Obadiah Moyo at Health, and July Moyo at Local Government.
The non-constituency Ministers this time are: Kirsty Coventry, Mangaliso Ndlovu, Mthuli Ncube, Ziyambi Ziyambi, Amon Murwira and Anxious Masuka.
Some Ministers have not made it back. Former Industry Minister Sekai Nzenza lost her constituency in Chikomba to delimitation, and fell in the party primary to Felix Mhona, the Transport Minister who went on to win the seat in the election. Mhona is back on the job.
Mangaliso Ndlovu, formerly Tourism Minister, also lost his seat after his Bulilima East was collapsed into a new constituency, Bulilima. He ceded the combined seat to Dingumuzi Phuti, who was MP for Bulilima West. He has been rewarded. To accommodate Ndlovu, Mnangagwa has split the old Ministry, giving Tourism to Barbara Rwodzi and retaining Ndlovu as Minister of Environment Climate and Wildlife. Her deputy is Tongai Mnangagwa, the President’s nephew who is MP for Harare South. *newZWire*