Harare – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Friday reshuffled his cabinet, introducing two more new ministries in the already distended executive.
Mugabe made 14 more ministerial appointments at a time when the drought-hit and investment-starved country is looking at cutting the wage bill by about half from the current 83 percent of revenue to about 40 percent.
International Monetary Fund (IMF) head of mission to Zimbabwe Domenico Fanizza earlier this week expressed satisfaction that the Zimbabwean government had agreed to rationalise public spending and reduce public sector employment costs.
The IMF also reviewed down Zimbabwe’s growth prospects from 2.8 percent to 1.5 percent.
The new appointments would mean government would now require in excess of US3 million to cater for the new ministers’ perks, allowances, and top-of-the-range vehicles.
Cabinet ministers’ salaries fall between the $2 000 and $4 000 range, and they get a brand new Mercedes-Benz, which costs upwards of $100 000, as well as an off-road vehicle costing in the same region as that of the executive Benz.
The ministers are also provided with fuel, cellphone airtime, aides, housing, and maids – all catered for by the state. Mugabe’s Friday cabinet reshuffle was the third in nine months, with the second only two months ago in July.
The new ministers were sworn in to fill posts left vacant after the axing of those allegedly aligned to former vice-president Joice Mujuru.
Mujuru was sacked from both Zanu-PF and government last December after being accused of allegedly plotting to kill Mugabe. Indigenisation Minister Chris Mushohwe was re-appointed Media, Information, and Broadcasting Services Minister.
Public Service Minister Prisca Mupfumira had been acting in that capacity following the redeployment of Jonathan Moyo to the higher and tertiary education portfolio two months ago.
Mugabe’s nephew, Patrick Zhuwao, who previously deputised in the information communication technology ministry a few years ago, bounced back to replace Mushohwe as Indigenisation Minister.
Zanu-PF chief whip Joram Gumbo takes over the transport ministry from Obert Mpofu, who was moved to economic planning. That portfolio had previously been held by former Zimbabwean ambassador to South Africa, Simon Khaya Moyo.
Khaya Moyo was reassigned to one of the two new ministries, policy co-ordination and promotion of socio-economic ventures in the president’s office, with Abednigo Ncube being appointed to the other new ministry, rural development and preservation of national cultural heritage.
Only one person, Makhosini Hlongwane, a former journalist with the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation TV, was appointed Minister Without Portfolio. The sworn-in deputies are: Edgar Mbwembwe (foreign affairs); Obedingwa Mguni (home affairs); Berita Chikwama (lands and rural resettlement); Chris Chingosho (local government, public works, and national housing); Michael Madanhi (transport); Aldrin Masiiwa (health); Thokozile Matutu (media); Tshinga Dube (war veterans); Annastacia Ndhlovu (tourism); Monica Mutsvangwa (economic planning); and Tapiwanashe Matangaidze (public service).
Mutsvangwa was moved from the media portfolio to the economic planning ministry where she will deputise for Mpofu. Close to half of the appointments are believed to be heavily linked with the Mnangagwa camp in the succession matrix.
The appointments appear not to be a response to the economy need for fresh minds, but a 2018 election set-up following the resurgence of Mujuru on the political scene.