Mugabe rewards his loyalists

Sworn in: Members of the new Cabinet take their oath of office in Harare. (Aaron Ufumeli)

Sworn in: Members of the new Cabinet take their oath of office in Harare. (Aaron Ufumeli)

President Robert Mugabe wasted an opportunity to bring technically skilled people into his government, analysts have said.

The Constitution allows the president to appoint five non-constituency legislators, and he used the rule to reward party loyalists who helped to keep him in power.

Mugabe appointed his personal farm manager Joseph Made as minister of agriculture, mechanisation and irrigation, and rewarded Professor Jonathan Moyo for writing the Zanu-PF manifesto for the election with an appointment to the ministry of media, information and broadcasting services.

Lazarus Dokora, who was appointed the minister of primary and secondary education, as well as ministers of state for provincial affairs Martin Dinha (Mashonaland Central) and Faber Chidarikire (Mashonaland West) also benefitted from Mugabe's benevolence.

As a result, political analysts believe Mugabe's Cabinet lacks the technical ability to steer Zimbabwe away from the plethora of problems bedevilling the country.

"It looks like the priority was provincial-cum-ethnic balancing rather than choosing a Cabinet that delivers," said political analyst Ibbo Mandaza.

'It's about pleasing the party'
"I'm surprised that he didn't use his privilege of appointing non-constituency MPs more efficiently by appointing people like [former deputy prime minister Arthur] Mutambara and [former Delta chief executive officer Joe] Mutizwa into Cabinet.

"In the end, it was about pleasing the party rather than looking at capacity to deliver. It is more like we are back to 2008. It was party first and all other issues became secondary."

University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure said the Cabinet hardly inspires confidence because there is no "new blood.
It's just the recycling of the old guard.

Even the 'new' ministers, such as Walter Chidhakwa, have been in government before and were just ­elevated from being deputy ministers," he said.

"The criteria was on a reward and patronage basis. It was 'thank you for doing a good job during the elections'. It's a thank you Cabinet. It's not a performance-based Cabinet. The Cabinet was not put in place with an eye on the future. It was put in place after considering 'who did what' to ensure the resounding electoral victory."

His sentiments seemed to resonate with the opinion of Dzikamai Mavhaire, who was appointed energy and power development minister. Mavhaire said his appointment was a reward after his home province won all the House of Assembly seats for Masvingo province.

'We tried our best'
"The fact that we got 26 out of 26 seats is a good testimony to say we tried our best … I am happy that His Excellency the President recognised the effort we put [in] and rewarded us."

Former finance minister and Movement for Democratic Change secretary general Tendai Biti said the new Cabinet spelt doom for the country.

"Despite my fears, I am one of those who genuinely hoped that Zanu-PF would confound all of us and assemble a Cabinet full of younger technocrats who were determined to make a difference, and push the country ­forward.

"As a matter of fact, there is a core of these fresh young turks that would surely have been promoted to the highest chamber in the land on merit.

"Beyond them, the [five] Cabinet positions allowed in the new Constitution would then have been used to attract top brass Zimbabweans from outside Zanu-PF to provide some steel and verve in the new Cabinet.

"The new Cabinet represents the ­triumph of politics, political balancing over merit and the obligation and not the [imperative] of putting the country first," Biti said.

There has also been an outcry over how few women have been appointed. Of the 26 ministers appointed, only three are women.

Mugabe only chose two women as ministers of state for provincial affairs out of 10 positions.

The provincial ministers will act as de facto governors, which is against the new Constitution, which abolished the posts.

The ministry with a mind-boggling mystery name
Zimbabweans have been baffled by the creation of a ministry of state for liaising on psychomotor activities in education.

Many people took to the social media to express their surprise over the ministry and asked what exactly the long-time Masvingo governor, Josiah Hungwe, who has been appointed to head the ministry, will be doing.

"What really does this guy do? And whatever he does, at ministerial level shuwa [truly]?" asked Davison Charamba, one of the many people who were bewildered by the appointment.

The Mail & Guardian was equally baffled and tried to find out what the ministry will do.

The chief secretary to the president and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, said the psychomotor ministry would co-ordinate vocational and technical training in primary, secondary and higher education.

"This is meant to ensure that the Nziramasanga commission of inquiry recommendations are implemented," he said.

Ensuring a regional balance
The government established the commission in 1999 to evaluate the educational requirements of the country.

It found that the national core curriculum was largely academic and recommended the introduction of vocational skills training in secondary schools. But its recommendations were not implemented.

The commission recommended a nine-year compulsory basic education cycle for all pupils in order to cultivate the habits, attitudes, interests, skills and entrepreneurial opportunities that would prepare them to be good citizens.

But most people in political circles believe the ministry was created to ensure a regional balance in President Robert Mugabe's Cabinet.

"There is no real need for that ministry but Mugabe wanted to accommodate people from Masvingo after the province won all 26 House of Assembly seats in the province," said a Zanu-PF official from region.

"Three Cabinet ministers were appointed from the province — that is Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Francis Nhema and Dzikamai Mavhaire — but that was not enough considering our performance, so a position was created for Hungwe, who is one of the most senior politicians from the province."

Asked what his ministry would be responsible for, Hungwe said: "I am tired, come to the office later. I have had many interviews for today."

According to Wikipedia, psychomotor learning is the relationship between cognitive functions and physical movement where particular attention is given to the learning of co-ordinated activity involving the arms, hands, fingers and feet.

Although the political reasons for Hungwe's appointment might have been explained, how the ministry got its name remains a mystery.

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