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Cabinet Headache For ED As He Plots Tough Balancing Act

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By Amos Maseko

BARRING a miracle that could see the Constitutional Court reversing his electoral victory over alleged poll irregularities, Zimbabwe’s president-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa looks set to form the next government with all eyes focussed on how he will configure his envisaged executive.

Mnangagwa, who has branded his politics around the need to attract foreign investment, is certain to persist with the trajectory into his new five-year mandate.

But before that, he has to play a balancing act in choosing a cabinet that speaks to competencies, ethnic and gender balancing.

At a ripe age of 76, Mnangagwa is also under pressure to draft in younger politicians into his new government at the same time think of the old guard belonging to his generation.

Mnangagwa also has to ensure the military component within the Zanu PF circles is placated. This also applies to war veterans.

“I think, if he gets his way, he will try to balance between his civilian Zanu PF party faithful and the military kingmakers,” political analyst Vivid Gwede says.

“With the way it is, he looks out of sorts to be confident enough to rock the boat too much, which in simpler terms means same old faces in the Cabinet. I don't think he owes his power, if he gets it, to himself that much.”

Mnangagwa also has the choice of looking across the political divide for talent but he has ruled out any chances of forming a government of national unity insisting he has enough talent to tap into.

Without those political blinkers, the new state leader had Tendai Biti for finance minister and Nkosana Moyo for investment promotion, given the former industry minister’s links to international markets.

With the business thrust that he has adopted since November, the new leader would likely prioritise finance, international relations, agriculture.

Mnangagwa would likely retain former military commanders Sibusiso Moyo and Perence Shiri in his new cabinet because of the role they played last November for him to become president.

The two have since secured senatorial seats which make it easier for the president to pick them for cabinet posts.

But apart from choosing the right personnel for the particular portfolios, Mnangagwa knows he needs the international community’s hand to move forward and this has a lot to do with how he manages his local politics, starting with the 2018 harmonised elections which have been disputed by the opposition.

He has also suffered a setback in the US government’s recent decision to keep its sanctions on the Harare regime.

“Legitimacy questions will diminish Mnangagwa's attempts at reviving the economy. This is the reason why this election was crucial for all Zimbabweans. Unfortunately, they have ruined it,” Gwede said.

Geraldine Sibada, also a political analyst, feels Mnangagwa lacks the required independence to exercise his choices without undue influence from Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and the military.

“There is a belief that he is not in control and the strings are being pulled by Chiwenga; if so, then it will be much worse.

“So the bulk of the cabinet will be the usual suspects in the old system, even if it means appointing those outside of parliament.

“He will throw in a few neutrals but not significant enough to dilute the war vets and military component.”

But top journalist Elias Mambo feels Mnangagwa should be bold enough to make decisions that have the best interest of the country as opposed to listening to self-serving suggestions by Zanu PF hawks.

“ED has to bite the bullet and come up with a cabinet which attracts investors as well as balance his politics. He has to include technocrats whose aim is to rebuild the economy,” he says.

“From what he has been saying that the economy leads politics, it should therefore follow that his cabinet includes technocrats.

“He will obviously use his five non-constituency cabinet posts to appoint technocrats who are not politicians like he did when he took over from former president Robert Mugabe.

“In order to play into the demands of investors, he should avoid deadwood. So we are likely to see fresh blood in this new cabinet.”


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