ED Cabinet: Joy, tears as bigwigs fall, loyalists co-opted, army meddling checked

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By Nkosana Dlamini and Idah Mhetu

CONTROVERSIAL politician Obert Mpofu and Patrick Chinamasa Friday led a list of veteran ministers who fell by the wayside after President Emmerson Mnangagwa failed to consider them into his new cabinet.

Mnangagwa appointed a 20-member cabinet with some surprise new inclusions while some Zanu PF heavyweights who had almost become permanent features in successive governments since independence were conspicuous by their absence.

Also among the missing lot were Simon Khaya Moyo, Mike Bimha and Supa Mandiwanzira.

They were in charge of energy, trade and ICT, respectively.

David Parirenyatwa, who was health minister, was also not part of the new cabinet.

President Mnangagwa told journalists after the announcement that all those ministers who did not make it to his new government shall be redeployed to the party.

Mnangagwa was under pressure to dump some of the most controversial government officials out of cabinet after they have long been associated with corruption. Of these, Mpofu’s name stood out prominently.

The newly elected state leader had the boldness to draft into his new cabinet, former Chief Executive Officer of Chitungwiza General Hospital Dr Obadiah Moyo as Health Minister while a Dr Sekesai Zenza was given responsibility for Public Service.

Also among surprise inclusions were many time Olympics gold medallist swimmer, Kirsty Coventry who will head Sports while top economist and banker Mthuli Ncube was handed what is often seen as the most important ministry – finance.

Mnangagwa also kept in the gravy train his long-time ally July Moyo who lost his bid to become Redcliff MP in the July 30 elections.

Musician, businessman and now Goromonzi MP, Energy Mutodi’s brave challenge of former President Robert Mugabe’s continued rule finally paid off when he was appointed Information and Broadcasting Deputy Minister.

Just like Mutodi, war veterans secretary general Victor Matemadanda may also have been rewarded for sacrificing both life and career to do Mnangagwa’s bidding during Zanu PF’s dicey leadership squabbles months before Mugabe’s ouster.

Mazowe MP Fortune Chasi, who was once dumped out as Justice Deputy Minister at the behest of former First Lady Grace Mugabe, bounced back as Transport and Infrastructural Development deputy minister.

Mnangagwa also kept in his cabinet Ziyambi Ziyambi who was allowed to keep his Justice Ministry while Sithembiso Nyoni, in charge of the now combined Women’s Affairs and Small Enterprises portfolio, remains a mysterious survivor in successive cabinets even under Mugabe.

Priscah Mupfumira, who was among Ministers to be ditched by Mugabe few days after his ouster November last year, is among those with the longest laugh after being appointed Environment and Tourism chief.

Joram Gumbo, now in charge of Energy, was also an interesting survivor from Mugabe’s now defunct administration while Cain Mathema, appointed Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage minister, has proven to be among few with the magic to charm both Mugabe and Mnangagwa.

In the Mines Ministry, the moral template failed to apply against Winston Chitando, whose alleged illicit affair with Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chair Priscilla Chigumba once became trending news in the period ahead of the July 30 elections.

Garrulous Minister and close Mnangagwa ally, Chris Mutsvangwa could not make it to cabinet again after losing his bid to recover his Norton seat although the famous Mutsvangwa couple could be wearing half a smile after Monica Mutsvangwa was handed the Information portfolio.

Ex-war veterans minister Tshinga Dube also failed to make it onto the gravy train after he lost his Makokoba seat while fawning ex-Defence Minister and Mugabe’s choice of successor, Sydney Sekeramayi could also not make it to cabinet. Sekeramayi had become a career cabinet minister after he had miraculously survived through successive governments under Mugabe.

For all the zealous defence and praise of Mnangagwa, former Finance Deputy Minister Terrence Mukupe emerged empty handed. Mukupe lost his Harare East seat to MDC Alliance’s Tendai Biti.

Despite apparent canvassing for a cabinet job, Norton MP and Mnangagwa apologist Temba Mliswa failed to recognised again, maybe as punishment for dumping Mnangagwa’s man – Mutsvangwa – from parliament. The former Zimbabwe diplomat to China was thoroughly trounced in the just ended elections by Mliswa.

Veteran politician Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri was perhaps among the biggest surprises when she was given charge of the Defence Ministry which was under Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and has largely been entrusted on male politicians since independence in 1980.

Prominent former military commanders Perence Shiri and Sibusiso Moyo returned to keep the ministries of agriculture and foreign affairs respectively, a sign that the shadowy military component within government exercised less influence in the decisions as Chiwenga was also denied his Defence portfolio which almost made him defacto military commander.

“It is apparent that Mnangagwa was exercising his full prerogative to pick members of his cabinet.

“Indeed, the new cabinet comprises very sober characters and is a sign of a genuine attempt to balance a lot of important factors by the President,” remarked one Brian Chawanda, an ordinary Zimbabwean soon after going through the list.

There were fears that Chiwenga’s overbearing influence on presidential decisions could manifest again in the cabinent decisions.

However, Mnangagwa made no attempt to appoint into his new administration, any opposition politician.