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Senior ministers to be rested in this weeks reshuffle

18 Feb 2019 at 20:41hrs | Views
Zimbabwe will have a First reshuffle this week since elections in July. In the inauguration speech the previous year ED had pledged to hit the ground running. The ground is available the running has started but unfortunately you can not see the speed and the direction. At least for now. Reshuffles are a chance to revive the fortunes of a President - by changing the faces of his Cabinet and Government.

Zimbabwe's cabinet offered much but delivered less; the occupants of key Cabinet positions may remain in place after all. Government's big beasts may stand their ground, seemingly immovable. But with the way government has performed in these six months the most prominent and strong ministers may exit the Cabinet. The optics of reshuffle must not at this point, about increasing diversity. It must not tell the real diversity story of the reshuffle, nor make an adequate case for diversity in the executive. Increasing diversity in the Cabinet appears to be of increasing importance to leaders and has been shown to have beneficial impacts on both policy outcomes and political participation. However, ED must not miss the chance to make a lasting impact on diversity at the highest echelons of Zimbabwe government. Diversity must not be above efficiency. The current ministers have not started to run even though they have hit the ground. There are of-course few professional cadres who have shown an impact since they were appointed ministers.

ED must overtly frame his reshuffle around the appeal for increasing economic growth in his to be refreshed administration. The image that must capture this most explicitly should be the courage and a bold move to remove friends and relatives and replace them with a wide and national representative cabinet. The president must be surrounded by an all hardworking group of government whips. Zimbabwe needs a government that "looks more like the country it serves". It must not be tilting on one region or province. It must not be a provincial affair but a national issue.

The president must show a repeated imagery which again will show how gender – i.e. women is now a salient representational criterion in choosing Cabinets; descriptively in terms of the numbers of women; and symbolically, for what it 'says' about the President the Government, and the party of government. It suggests that increasing the number of women in Cabinet is regarded as beneficial by political leaders. And rightly so. There is a strong and positive symbolic impact of having more women, at least in the initial post-election Cabinet. It can 'stand for' a feminist, modern, and 'in touch' President. A higher proportion of women in Cabinet will also increase women's conventional political participation – and this effect is stronger than the effect of more women in Parliament. That said, increasing the numbers of women in government (as in the parliament) does not go uncontested. Positive optics around diversity can lead to a backlash. This should be a positive image, but it must not be the massacre of the middle-aged men.

Of course we must have more women in government but they must be there on merit alone not as 'token women' promoted simply because of their sex nor at the cost of 'more talented' men. This is a familiar trope against any equality measures designed to increase the representation of women in politics. There is little evidence of any qualification gap between quota and non-quota men and women – less qualified women are not being promoted at the expense of more talented candidates. Moreover, women elected by quotas are as effective as men once in office. In fact, there is some evidence that quotas can enhance merit as more qualified candidates are selected.

If the merit argument has little basis for understanding Cabinet appointments, the 'demise of the middle-aged man' is also massively overstated. The optics around diversity do not translate into reality, nor would we end up with a government that "looks more like the country it serves." After reshuffle, the face of the Cabinet ministers must not remain the same.

If we broaden out to the government overall, there should be some evidence of positive change: ED should instigate a change in Zimbabwean politics.

To avoid criticism, the president must match or surpass the number of hard workers appointed by his successor thus creating a 'concrete floor' of a minimum number of those who know what they are doing in Cabinet.

And these floors are not always set by leftist parties. So, if ED follows through on his rhetoric and appoints a more purposeful Cabinet he might be able to effect change beyond his own administration.

The appointment of young ministers will suggest the potential to have some 'floor' effect. But this will require a certain steadfastness in the face of the expected backlash from the vampires in Zimbabwe's politics and the media. This week again will see the appointment of Harare resident minister. Names have been flying from Senetor Hungwe to Goodwills Masimirembwa with some suggesting Tongai Mnangagwa. This appointment will be under the microscope and will show the seriousness of the party in these appointments.

The ministry of Finance is a thorny issue. With our economy now it is not healthy for the Reserve bank governor and minister to be at each other's throat. It shows we are going nowhere as far as our economic situation is concerned. The coming reshuffle must be a turning point for Zimbabwe. We are past the time of politicking. We need action.

Ministers who have been reported for corruption must not be anywhere near the cabinet. This reshuffle is a new start. ED must rise beyond nepotism and come up with a war cabinet to term the runaway economy. Deputy minister Mutodi is living in the shadows of allegations which are not good. He must be given time to grow.

We have ministers like Gumbo they should be rested and allowed to concentrate in their land. The reshuffle must be reshuffle not a mere rotation.

While the country waits anxiously there is one sector where business is booming. This is the witch doctors. Prophets and fortune tellers. Prospective ministers are now tripping each other rushing to prophets in order to boost their chances of being appointed ministers. The future of the nation is cemented to this reshuffle.

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Source - Dr Masimba Mavaza
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