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Iqbal Jhazbhay, Zubeida Jaffer09 Feb 2007 00:00
Birth, death, love and taxes are said to be the only constants in life, but one more thing could be added: a Robert Mugabe Cabinet.
One would like to think that Stan Made—a man who has presided over the near-death of Zimbabwe’s agriculture sector since the start of the land invasions—would be relieved of his duties and packed off to a place where he has nothing at all to do with anything.
Long seen as the comical, if not farcical, face of the failed land reform programme, Made infamously said that the drought in Zimbabwe was caused by a monkey who had created a malfunction in a transmitter at a fertiliser company.
He also gave new meaning to the term “crop forecasts”, conducting one from a helicopter.
At least there won’t be any bungling in this new job, as there is no state agriculture really going on and most irrigation equipment and other machinery has been looted and sold, largely as scrap metal.
Sadly, Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa has been axed. He was one of the few ministers who really knew what he was doing—and one of the few acceptable to people outside ruling Zanu-PF circles.
It is not really a surprise, as the writing has been on the wall for him since he clashed with Reserve Bank Governor and Mugabe confidante Gideon Gono.
It was reported last month that he wanted to resign because he was unable to work with Gono, and Mugabe disliked what he called his “textbook-economics” approach to his work.
Murerwa is to be replaced by Simbarashe Mumbembegwi, the former minister for indigenisation and empowerment, and a former ambassador to the United Kingdom.
Perhaps he has been moved because his portfolio at the indigenisation and empowerment ministry is almost complete—what with the number of white commercial farmers in the country dropping from 4 500 in 2000 to just 600 these days.
Those ministers lucky just to have been reshuffled, rather than dropped, may not be sure what exactly it is they are supposed to be doing.
What, for instance, is economist Samuel Undenge, the new Minister of State for State Enterprises, Anti-Monopolies and Anti-Corruption, really supposed to be doing?
He is not the only who may be wondering about his job description, as Zimbabwe now has four ministries that in one way or another have to do with agriculture: Made’s ministry, the land affairs ministry headed by Didymus Mutasa, a ministry of agriculture headed by Rugare Gumbo and Munacho Mutezo’s ministry of water resources and infrastructural development.
It is not only agriculture that sees this duplication of duties. There are also three ministries that have to do with the economy: the economic development ministry headed by Sylvester Nguni, the finance ministry and Obert Mpofu’s ministry of industry and international trade.
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