Mugabe swears in 19 deputy ministers, 5 Ministers of State
the web 19/02/2009 23:36:28
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
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