PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai reshuffled his MDC party’s cabinet appointments on Wednesday, sacking two ministers and reassigning others in a move he said was "to strengthen the performance" of his party in government.
Tsvangirai sacked National Housing minister Fidelis Mhashu, a move that appeared aimed at balancing representation for different factions within his Movement for Democratic Change party. He also fired the Energy Minister Elias Mudzuri days after a national blackout during the World Cup that also knocked out power in neighbouring Zambia.
The 10-hour power failure last Friday was all the more embarrassing because Mudzuri had promised the week before to keep the lights on throughout the tournament so Zimbabweans could enjoy the games in South Africa.
Elton Mangoma, the Minister for Economic Planning and Investment Promotion will take over the Energy post when the changes are made official on Thursday.
Giles Mutsekwa, who shared the Home Affairs portfolio with a Zanu PF minister, Kembo Mohadi, was moved to National Housing and his post taken by the Prime Minister’s top aide Theresa Makone, formerly Minister or Public Works.
The MDC's former deputy secretary general Tapiwa Mashakada will take the Economic Planning job.
Tsvangirai said the axed ministers had failed a performance review after 16 months of troubled power sharing with President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF and a rival MDC party led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.
He told reporters at his party’s Harvest House HQ in Harare that the slow pace of restoring law and order, rehabilitating power infrastructure and achieving democratic reforms in general led to "a loss of confidence in the new administration among the electorate."
"As a result, I have decided on a number of changes needed to strengthen the performance of the MDC in government and outside government," he said of the first shuffle since he took office in February last year.
Tsvangirai had to clear the changes to the Cabinet with Mugabe.
"The President was not alarmed. It is my responsibility," he said. "I do not seek his approval, I seek his endorsement as somebody who is going to swear in these people. We had a very fruitful discussion on this matter."
Tsvangirai said Mugabe's failure to immediately swear in Roy Bennett as deputy agriculture minister was an obstacle in the unity government.
"No one has a veto over who I appoint, and, in this case I have already appointed him as deputy minister of agriculture and it will remain so until this matter is resolved," he said.
Tsvangirai said that despite continuing disputes between his party and Zanu PF, Zimbabwe has seen improvements in the economy, health and education.
He said the coalition was "the most practical means of moving forward and halting the needless suffering of the people."
Mugabe was scheduled to swear in Tsvangirai's new appointments Thursday.
TSVANGIRAI CABINET CHANGES
Elias Mudzuri, formerly Minister of Energy and Power Development, is dropped from cabinet.
Fidelis Mhashu, formerly Minister of National Housing and Social Amenities, is dropped from cabinet.
Evelyn Masaiti, formerly Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender & Community Development, is dropped.
Elton Mangoma, formerly Economic Planning Minister becomes Minister of Energy and Power Development .
Jameson Timba, formerly Deputy Minister of Media, Information & Publicity, becomes Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Tapiwa Mashakada will become Minister of Economic Planning & Investment Promotion.
Gift Chimanikire will become Deputy Minister of Mines & Mining Development.
Obert Gutu will become Deputy Minister of Justice & Legal Affairs.
Tongai Matutu will become Deputy Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment
Theresa Makone, formerly Minister of Public Works, will become Co-Minister of Home Affairs.
Giles Mutsekwa, formerly co-Minister of Home Affairs, will become Minister of Housing & Social Amenities.
Gorden Moyo, formerly Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, will become Minister of State Enterprises and Parastatals.
Joel Gabuza, formerly Minister of State Enterprises and Parastatals, will become Minister of Public Works.
Murisi Zvizvai, formerly Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development, will become Deputy Minister of Media, Information and Publicity.
Jesse Majome, formerly Deputy Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, will become Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development.