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Posted to the web 19/02/2009 23:36:28
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe on Thursday swore in 19 deputy ministers to a new unity government with opposition agriculture nominee Roy Bennett still held in detention on a criminal charge.

The ceremony finalised the historic unity government formed last week after years of political turmoil between Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

MDC nominee Bennett, in custody on a charge of possessing arms, was not named as deputy minister nor was his designated post announced.

Mugabe said the unity government was "very much on course" and shrugged off questions about Bennett's arrest which has been widely reported in foreign media.

"Across the world? I don't know why? That's a court issue," the 84-year-old head of state said.

A court in the eastern town of Mutare on Wednesday adjourned the case against Bennett, who is also the treasurer of the MDC, until March 4.

He is accused of illegal possession of arms for the purposes of committing banditry, insurgency and terrorism, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

His arrest last Friday came shortly before the swearing in of the unity government cabinet's and cast immediate doubt on its credibility.

Mugabe swore in 19 deputy ministers and five ministers of state without portfolio on Thursday.

Three of the ministers of state are from country's three main political parties whom he tasked with promoting national reconciliation and healing.

"We want them to constitute an organ that will deal with the healing process and reconciliation process," he said.

Describing Thursday's ceremony, Tsvangirai said: "I think it is the completion of the whole constitution of the government."

The unity government has the formidable task of rebuilding Zimbabwe from years of ruin which has led to the collapse of education and health services and the once vibrant economy.

"We belong to the same country," Mugabe said of the new government.

"We knew each other before and although we have talked to each other before in a different language -- critical language, abusive language -- but we were talking to each other.

"You know that kind of fight between us actually made us know each other much more but we decided that we must work together," he said

While Bennett's name was on the list of those invited for the swearing in at state house, his name was not on the final list released after the ceremony.

Minister of Information and Communication Technology Nelson Chamisa told AFP that the omission of Bennett was an error.

"Bennett is still our deputy minister of agriculture. If his name was omitted, it was by mistake," he said. - AFP

Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers sworn in on Thursday:

Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office — Sekai Masikana Holland MP (MDC-T)
Minister of State in Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara’s Office — Gibson Sibanda, Sen (MDC)
Minister of State in Vice President Msika’s Office — Flora Bhuka MP (Zanu PF)
Minister of State in Vice President Mujuru’s Office — Sylvester Robert Nguni MP (Zanu PF)
Minister of State in the President’s Office — John Landa Nkomo (Zanu PF)
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs — Moses Mzila Ndlovu MP (MDC)
Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce — Michael Chakanaka Bimha MP (Zanu PF)
Deputy Minister of Regional Integration and International Co-operation — Reuben Marumahoko MP (Zanu PF)
Deputy Minister of Public Works — Aguy Georgias, Sen (Zanu PF)
Deputy Minister of Public Service — Andrew Langa MP (Zanu PF)
Deputy Minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development — Sesel Zvidzai MP (MDC-T)
Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development — Tichaona Mudzingwa MP (MDC-T)
Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development — Murisi Zwizwai MP (MDC-T)
Deputy Minister of Media, Information and Publicity — Jameson Zvidzai Timba MP (MDC-T)
Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education — Lutho Addington Tapela MP (MDC)
Deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare — Douglas Tendai Mombeshora MP (Zanu PF)
Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare — Tracy Mutinhiri MP (Zanu PF)
Deputy Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture — Lazarus Dokora MP (Zanu PF)
Deputy Minister of Economic Planning and Development — Samuel Undenge MP (Zanu PF)
Deputy Minister of Energy and Power Development — Hubert Nyanhongo MP (Zanu PF)
Deputy Minister of State Enterprises and Parastatals — Walter Kufakunesu Chidhakwa, MP (Zanu PF)
Deputy Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment — Thamsanqa Mahlangu MP (MDC-T)
Deputy Minister Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development — Evelyn Pfugamai Masaiti MP (MDC-T)
Deputy Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs — Jessie Fungai Majome MP (MDC-T)

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