President Emmerson Mnangagwa criticised over Cabinet appointments

President drops two ministers he had appointed to the Cabinet in response to public uproar.

New interim Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa is officially sworn-in during a ceremony in Harare on November 24, 2017. PHOTO | MUJAHID SAFODIEN | AFP 

IN SUMMARY

  • Mr Mnangagwa’s most controversial appointments included Sibusiso Moyo, the general who played a prominent role in the recent military takeover.

  • The head of Zimbabwe’s air force, Perence Shiri, was named minister of agriculture and land affairs despite having led a military operation against opponents of Robert Mugabe in the early 1980s.

  • Mr Mnangagwa, 75, named his cabinet overnight on Thursday, and is expected to appoint two vice presidents following a special ZANU-PF congress in mid-December.

HARARE, Sunday

 

Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa has faced criticism over his Cabinet appointments.

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Mr Mnangagwa’s most controversial appointments included Sibusiso Moyo, the general who played a prominent role in the recent military takeover. He was given the role of foreign minister.

The head of Zimbabwe’s air force, Perence Shiri, was named minister of agriculture and land affairs despite his notoriety in having led a military operation against opponents of Robert Mugabe in the early 1980s.

Opposition leader Tendai Biti said that until the appoinments were made, Zimbabweans had “given the putsch the benefit of the doubt.

“We did so in the genuine, perhaps naive view that the country could actually move forward,” he tweeted.

“We craved change, peace & stability in our country. How wrong we were”.

DROPPED MINISTERS

On Sunday Mr Mnangagwa dropped two ministers he had appointed to the cabinet, a move widely seen as a response to a public uproar over the nominations.

Reports suggest the initial list did not comply with a constitutional provision which limits the number of ministers who are not members of parliament.

Some opposition supporters celebrated the most high profile decision - the removal of the education minister Lazarus Dokora - arguing that he was responsible for the decline in educational standards over the last few years.

He is being replaced by his own deputy, Paul Mavima.

Meanwhile Zanu-PF deputy Petronella Kagonye becomes labour and social welfare minister in place of Clever Nyathi, who becomes a special adviser to the president on national peace and reconciliation.

IMPORTANT TASK

Following the news, Zimbabwean media mogul and commentator Trevor Ncube tweeted that the quick change meant the president was either “listening to the public” or “he rushed through this important task”.

Mr Mnangagwa, 75, named his cabinet overnight on Thursday, and is expected to appoint two vice presidents following a special ZANU-PF congress in mid-December.

But he quickly replaced Mr Dokora with Paul Mavima, a professor and also a lawmaker in the governing ZANU-PF party.

A government statement said the changes were necessary to “ensure compliance with the constitution and considerations of gender, demography and special needs.”

Mr Dokora, who had served in Mugabe’s government since 2013, has faced heavy criticism for introducing changes to the country’s education curriculum which were widely seen as threatening the once-revered school system.

MILITARY TAKEOVER

Mr Mnangagwa is set to swear in his cabinet on Monday after taking over from Mugabe, who ruled the southern African country for 37 years. 

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s former vice president, who was on a trip abroad during last month’s military takeover that led to Mugabe’s resignation, has returned home, local media reported yesterday.

Mr Phelekezela Mphoko was the second deputy appointed in 2014 by longtime strongman Mugabe, along with current President Mnangagwa.

Mr Mphoko had flown to Japan on official business the day before the army took over the country in an operation that culminated in Mugabe’s ouster after a 37-year rule.

RETURNING HOME

But instead of returning home at the end of his mission, Mr Mphoko sought sanctuary in Botswana, where he remained until Friday.

“Mr Mphoko and his family arrived at the Zimbabwean side of the border at 1:15 pm aboard a Zimbabwe department of immigration minibus accompanied by Botswana immigration officials,” The Herald newspaper reported. He was with his wife Laurinda, son Siqokoqela and seven other family members, the paper added.

According to The Herald, Mphoko spoke to Mnangagwa by phone and got “the necessary assurances that he was free to come back to Zimbabwe”.  (AFP, BBC)

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