Mugabe will name his new cabinet this week, exactly a month since he and his Zanu PF party were swept back to power in a landslide election victory.
At 89, many analysts say the new cabinet could be Mugabe’s last as they speculate that he might stand down and let a younger leader from within his party finish his new five-year term.
Last Friday, Mugabe announced through a government gazette that the newly-elected MPs would be sworn in on September 3, with the first sitting scheduled for September 17.
The new cabinet presents Mugabe with a major challenge as he tries to strike a balance between youth and experience.
Zanu PF’s overwhelming election win has meant that Mugabe will have no less than 40 former cabinet ministers in Parliament – all hoping to be considered. Not only that, younger Zanu PF officials are pressing for the injection of youth in government to ensure the party’s survival beyond the current crop of leaders.
Since 2009, Zimbabwe has been under a coalition government which saw three parties – Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC – all contributing cabinet ministers. But with Mugabe’s sweeping victory, in which he polled 61 percent of the vote to his nearest challenger’s 34 percent, he finds himself with more room to appoint his loyalists to the cabinet.
But analysts say Mugabe would have to trim his cabinet from the 31 ministries in the last government to a leaner and more efficient edifice geared to deliver on Zanu PF’s election promises, even in the face of the country’s renewed isolation by Western countries who claim the July 31 elections were flawed.
Mugabe is expected to retain the nucleus of his loyal inner circle including Emmerson Mnangagwa, Sydney Sekeramayi, Nicholas Goche, Kembo Mohadi, Patrick Chinamasa, Obert Mpofu, Saviour Kasukuwere and Ignatius Chombo.
Former Information Minister Jonathan Moyo – said to have written the Zanu PF election manifesto – had appeared a dead cert for a cabinet post until his defeat in Tsholotsho North.
Joseph Made, who was Agriculture Minister in the last government, lost in the Zanu PF primaries and also faces an uncertain future.
The two will now be praying for Mugabe to include them in his allocation of five non-constituency MPs to qualify them for inclusion in the new cabinet.
Mugabe could also name a few technocrats who did not participate in the elections as non-constituency MPs, including the Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono whose term expires in November.
Focus will be on at least half a dozen key ministries – including Finance, Mines, Indigenisation, Agriculture, Transport, Health and Water – which will drive the government programme.
Finance in particular, is seen as the most critical appointment with indications that Zanu PF plans to introduce a mineral-backed local currency to work alongside the current multi-currency regime. Mugabe is said to be considering several names for the ministry, including July Moyo, Mnangagwa, Mpofu, Chinamasa and Gono.