Latest News Editor's Choice

Opinion / Columnist

Mnangagwa has nothing to apologise for even if he appoints his qualified relatives

15 Sep 2023 at 17:54hrs | Views
President Mnangagwa does not appear to be having trouble finding experienced candidates around him and at the moment Zimbabwe has no rules which govern appointments to the Cabinet by the President.

So, nothing stops the President from appointing the most qualified person even if it is his relative.

In choosing his personal staff and Cabinet, the President enjoys an unusual degree of freedom, which the constitution found suitable to the demands of his office and his goals.

The coach is allowed to choose his team and commands the game he wishes to see.

The President is authorized to appoint and fix the pay of his Cabinet without regard to any other provision of law regulating the employment or compensation of persons in the Government service.

Cabinet members so appointed shall perform such official duties as the President may prescribe and as the Constitution demands.

Social media is awash with sentiments that "arguably" unconstitutionally restrict the President's appointment powers with respect to his Cabinet and high-level officers.

The President's office is not an executive agency and that cannot stop him from hiring family as Cabinet and or State House staff – which would justify appointments of the Mnangagwa duo as deputy ministers.

In other words, while the President is chief executive, rules barring nepotism in an executive agency don't count or relate to presidential appointments because the Cabinet and the State House are not agencies.

Basically, it's the office of the President. So, other legal provisions that apply to hiring in government would undermine decisions made about Cabinet or State House staffing.

Such a statutory catchall gives President Mnangagwa broad leeway to hire just about anyone for his office and his Cabinet.

Zimbabwean issue is a classic bootstrap meritocracy: where the smartest, hardest-working, most fitting person for the job just so happens to be your son or daughter.

There is no evidence that the President did not use due diligence in making these appointments.

During the 2023 campaign trail, President Mnangagwa told voters that if they elected him, he would surround himself with the "best" and "most serious". This was reflected in the announced Cabinet.

The President should not apologise for appointing anyone into government, including his own relatives, as long as they are qualified and have the right credentials to occupy the office.

The argument from the different quarters saying President Mnangagwa was engaging in nepotism by appointing his trusted cadres is neither here nor there.

The President has appointed a well-balanced Cabinet.

President Mnangagwa is hardly the first President to appoint close patriots to top jobs.

If indeed any of the appointed Ministers has a record of mistrust, then that distrust would be justified.

In India, for example — the world's largest democracy — political dynasties have dominated the nation's politics since the country gained independence from the British.

In fact, in 2009, nearly a third of the country's elected Members of Parliament had relatives who served in public office immediately before them or at the same time.

According to one survey, 46 percent of Indians said that they would prefer voting for a candidate who comes from a political family. They say he most probably has experience and will not be seeking to fill his pockets.

There are no explicit laws that say the President cannot appoint a relative to any official government post if they are qualified and trusted by the President. In the event that a President's relative is widely perceived to be the best qualified for a certain role, that appointment can be evaluated on the merits.

Appointments of family members should be the exception, not the norm. And in this case, it is an exception and this noise is just time wasting and not constructive.

The President knows that nepotism erodes trust in government and often results in wholly unqualified people being entrusted with critical roles to the nation's interests, but the appointments so far are a far cry from nepotism.

Nepotism is a defining characteristic of monarchies, a system of government the United Kingdom is under.

The power of the Executive Branch is vested in the President of Zimbabwe, who also acts as head of state and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. The President is responsible for implementing and enforcing the laws written by parliament and, to that end, appoints the heads of the arms of government, including the Cabinet.

The Cabinet is responsible for the day-to-day enforcement and administration of policies and laws.

The President is both the head of state and head of government of Zimbabwe and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.

The President has the power either to sign legislation into law or to veto bills enacted by parliament. The President can issue executive orders, which direct executive officers or clarify and further existing laws.

The President also has the power to extend pardons and clemencies for federal crimes.

With these powers come several responsibilities, among them are constitutional requirements.

The Cabinet is an advisory body made up of the heads of the 26 executive departments.

Appointed by the President, the Cabinet members are often the President's closest confidants. All the members of the Cabinet take the title minister except the head of the Justice who is styled Attorney General.

In October 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower appointed his son John as assistant staff secretary in the White House.

At the time, John Eisenhower was a major in the U.S. Army.

Actually, American Presidents have appointed their relatives as top officials.

John Adams, America's second president, employed his son John Quincy Adams first as his secretary, and later as the U.S. Ambassador to Prussia. Adams also appointed his son-in-law, William Stephens Smith, who had a rather shady reputation, to a number of government positions, with Smith ending up with the plum job of customs agent in New York.

Presidents James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, John Tyler and James Buchanan all appointed close relatives to serve as their secretaries.

President Zachary Taylor used military commissions to put his brother and son-in-law on the government payroll and declared them both to be special, but "unofficial" presidential advisers.

President Ulysses S. Grant placed a number of family members on either the government payroll or on staff at the White House.

His brother, Orvil Grant, was ultimately implicated in scandals involving government trading posts with Native Americans.

President Woodrow Wilson had family members as both secretaries and aides, while his wife Edith, actually ran the country for a number of months after her husband suffered a devastating stroke.

Franklin Roosevelt employed a number of his family members. His wife Eleanor served as his roving ambassador at large.

She travelled all over the world on FDR's behalf, filing hundreds of reports informing him of various situations and often directly advising him on what action to take.

His son, James Roosevelt, was not only one of his aides and closest confidants but also helped the crippled president to get around and to at times simulate walking.

In the final months of his presidency, Roosevelt's daughter Anna served as the de facto "First Lady," during the ongoing absence of her mother.Most famously of all, President John F. Kennedy appointed his brother Robert to be his Attorney-General and his very closest adviser.

He also appointed his brother-in-law Sargent Shriver as the first head of the new Peace Corps.

President Bill Clinton appointed his wife Hillary to head an important task force to devise a national healthcare programme.

A few examples may have been missed, but by now it should be clear that this issue is not a new one.

The former President of Zambia's son Panji Kaunda, a retired Colonel, now an ambassador of Zambia to Malawi said: "Our father did the same for us his children for fear of people saying he's appointing his own children despite us being qualified.

"I am happy they are qualified and we should applaud him for being bold enough. In terms of personnel, his Cabinet is well-balanced. We suffered under the same beliefs as the Kaunda children. The only time a Kaunda became something was when Wezi was appointed deputy minister at Home Affairs to General Chinkuli towards the end of KK's time in office."

Col Panji said the country should not sacrifice people who are more learned out of fear of being accused to be engaging in nepotism. –

Source - The Herald
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.