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Economic war cabinet

15 Sep 2018 at 06:44hrs | Views
After the noise and deliberate anti-development scheme by the opposition President Mnangagwa has appointed a new well balanced and surprising Cabinet. The nation is very anxious for change and the anxiety lies heavily on the new cabinet. It is hoped that the pressure to perform exerted on the cabinet should not misfire.

Zimbabwe has long been swimming in an economic crisis which is closely linked to its political challenges. The Cabinet comes at a time when the government is still struggling with difficult economic problems which presents a very acute quagmire. For some, the appointments reflect an effort to deal with the slogan that Zimbabwe is open for business which is expected to end on a super progressive note.

The performance of the government is yet another front to salvage the nose diving economy. There is a view that it is possible to build economic progress through solid performance. Much will depend on the government's ability to find solutions to the problems affecting society. This is why Cabinet choices are critical to the success or failure of the government. The government should operate for the people by the people. The resting of the old folks from cabinet does not reflect an end of the road for the old folks.

The Cabinet is noticeably free of the majority of the old guard who have dominated government for the past three decades. Most ministers have never known any job except being ministers since 1980. The old guards like Obert Mpofu, Patrick Chinamasa, Simon Khaya Moyo, Josaya Hungwe and David Parirenyatwa have all been dropped together with Simbarashe Mubengegwi and Chris Mutsvangwa. It will be noted that this will be their first time out of government in more than two decades. They will have to get used to life outside government. It is hoped that they will put the interest of the country first above their bitterness.

The president in his wisdom knew that these old guards were highly unpopular. Their retention following the operation restore legacy last November left many Zimbabweans disappointed and underwhelmed at a time when they had huge expectations. At the time, it could be argued in Mnangagwa's defence that soon after restore legacy he was constrained by circumstances and had retained the old guards in order to maintain a united front in the period leading up to elections. It is clear that most of the retired men and women wanted to remain in power.

None of them had retired or made themselves unavailable for appointment, which suggests that they still had expectations of remaining in government. The president was so courageous to take this step to kick start our economy and proper legitimacy. In order to attract investors the government has to drop the old guard and bring in some new blood.

The old guard In any event, remain senior members within the party. Indeed, these men could still make things hard for the newcomers in government if the president does not give them latitude to implement their plans for a quick recovery.

Not all of the old guard has gone the president mixes the old and the new like Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri is now the Minister of Defence, Muchinguri is no stranger to the corridors of power. She has been in charge of various portfolios including Women's Affairs, Higher Education and more recently, Environment. Hers has been a long road in government,since 1980. It is hoped that her beauty will reflect the beauty of her efforts.

Another long stayer who has remained is Sithembiso Nyoni. She has been the Minister for a long time.Today's language is one of start-ups and technology hubs. This ministry needs a modern hand to guide it.we can only hope that there was wisdom in retaining the minister in this position.

The highlight of the Cabinet, which has been praised is the inclusion of at least two new technocrats of high repute. The first of these is Mthuli Ncube, an economist who has held distinguished posts at institutions such as Oxford University and the African Development Bank. He has advised finance ministers in many countries on policy issues and has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field of economics. He brings great weight to the office. His appointment is a refreshing glass of cold water in the desert.

While in the mid-2000s Ncube tried his hand at banking in Zimbabwe through an institution called Barbican Bank, which was eventually closed down. Critics will no doubt raise questions over this dark patch. This was caused by aggressive central bank which had running battles with mostly indigenous-owned banks. Only a few survived the scourge. Which was called cyclone Gono.

Nevertheless, Ncube bounced back and re-built a successful international career. While his skills and experience make him a suitable candidate, Ncube was an attractive choice for Zimbabwe because he represents a larger message to the world. This is Mnangagwa showing his pragmatic side – embracing a distinguished professional on merit rather than party affiliation and deploying him to perform a specialised function. This can be seen in the appointment of Ms Coventry and Dr Obadiah Moyo.

We hope that The colleagues in high places in the complex world of finance and business will come to the aid of Ncube.We hope that he would be listened to and take his word seriously. However, much will depend on the latitude that the president is willing to give him.

Ncube is the playmaker who must control the game and make sure the entire team delivers. Past Finance Ministers have failed to achieve their objectives not because they were bad but because there was undue political interference and toxic policies based on populism. If only for this time politics leaves economy to strive.

The younger generation missed the knowledge and older memories may have forgotten but there have been accomplished technocrats in this post before. There was Dr Bernard Chidzero who was recruited from Canada as a technocrat in the 1980s and Dr Ariston Chambati who was a renowned corporate executive. They both had to navigate a rough political terrain in which populism stood in the way of economic prudence. The new cabinet should be given a chance to shine.

The other surprise name is Kirsty Coventry, Zimbabwe's most decorated Olympic champion. There is much to commend in this appointment. She is a young woman who has represented her country at the highest level. She is a winner, a quality that is essential to any team. She appeals to a broad demographic group and her appointment represents the country's racial diversity. She understands sport. The appointment of a person with a sporting background and also international experience was long overdue.

Sport has great potential but it has been grossly mismanaged. She has a big job cleaning up the mess in various areas including cricket, football, rugby, tennis and athletics.

The president has retained Ministers of State in the 10 provinces this is proper as it is designed to implement the devolution model provided for in the Constitution.

Despite scandals that rocked his tenure as Transport Minister, Joram Gumbo has been retained in the new Cabinet. The Zimbabwe Airways saga was the most prominent. He is one of the loyal comrades and The president was not going to disappoint him.

Some notorious ministers like Supa Mandiwanzira have been shown the door. Another casualty is Mike Bimha, who was at Industry and Commerce for some time. A relation of the Mugabes who had surprisingly been retained after the Restore legacy Bimha lost primary elections in the Chikomba constituency. Another Chikomba MP, Sekesai Nzenza is one of the new faces in government where she becomes Public Services minister.

The real problem for this Cabinet, as with others before it is the thin line between the party and the state. The first problem is that the politburo, which is ZANU PF's own "cabinet" is a critical player in the policy-making. Technocrats in government who are not also in the party's decision-making bodies might find themselves in a difficult situation, especially when important decisions are directed from the party.

In the current euphoria, it is easy to forget that they are not the first technocrats to join government from outside ZANU PF.

The president has rid himself of the old faces that had become an embarrassment, his new cabinet is still 70 per cent men and women who were in the pre-election cabinet.

In short the cabinet represents the serious leader who has put the country before the party. A leader who works to the best interest of the state.

The world looks with owe and Zimbabwe awaits anxiously for a change which must put us up between hill and cloud.

Source - Dr Masimba Mavaza
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