STAFF WRITER 1 January 2019
HARARE – As Zimbabweans waved goodbye to 2018 yesterday, and awaited with
much trepidation the dawn of the new year, in the light of the country’s
deepening economic woes, the Daily News – as per its rich annual tradition
– rated President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Cabinet ministers’
performances for last year.
The resultant report card, as our readers might imagine, does not make for
happy reading – amid a feeling of regrets and lost opportunities among
many Zimbabweans, given the expectations and euphoria that accompanied the
widely-supported military coup of November 2017, which ousted the detested
former president Robert Mugabe from power.
To say 2018 was a tough year is to understate the enormity of the
challenges Zimbabweans had to live through during the year. Indeed, it was
the proverbial “annus horribilis” economically – a Latin phrase that means
a horrible year.
Yet, and as alluded to above, Mnangagwa had swept to power amid much hope
among the generality of the country’s citizens – who had endured nearly
four decades of hell under Mugabe’s ruinous rule.
But the task facing the 76-year-old Zanu PF leader, of rebuilding
Zimbabwe’s shattered economy and lifting the quality of life of its long
suffering people, has so far proven to be a tad too onerous for him and
his misfiring Cabinet team.
Things took a turn for the worse following the country’s historic July 30
national polls, where Mnangagwa narrowly defeated opposition leader Nelson
Chamisa in the hotly-disputed presidential plebiscite.
Until then, Mnangagwa had been credited with presiding over arguably the
most peaceful elections in the history of the country as he, together with
Chamisa, preached peace and tolerance during their campaigns.
However, the peace and camaraderie spirit that had been displayed in the
run-up to the polls were marred by deadly violence which broke out in
Harare’s central business district (CBD) on August 1, when the army used
live ammunition to quell ugly protests.
Political analysts said the subsequent deaths and witch-hunt against
opposition leaders – including the hounding of MDC kingpin Tendai Biti out
of the country before he was caught and brought back in a humiliating
fashion – had harmed Mnangagwa’s quest to mend once frosty relations with
This and Mnangagwa’s continuing political brawling with Chamisa, who
vigorously contested the outcome of the July 30 polls, has also cast a
dark shadow on the president’s plans to lift Zimbabwe’s fortunes.
After the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) affirmed Mnangagwa’s poll
victory, he briefly lifted the nation’s mood with his Cabinet choices –
which saw him dumping most of the old guard which had become synonymous
with Mugabe’s previous governments.
The “poster boy” of his Cabinet team was former banker and founder of the
now defunct Barbican Bank, Mthuli Ncube – who was appointed Finance
minister, replacing the hardworking Patrick Chinamasa who was shunted to
Zanu PF’s headquarters.
But even this “trick” has failed to yield the desired national goals. The
country’s sickly economy continues to worsen, amid ominous signs that the
socio-economic horrors of 2008 can once again be experienced soon.
Below are the Daily News’ reviews and gradings of the Cabinet’s
performance since it took office in September 2018.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa
The veteran Zanu PF leader’s reign to date can only be best described as a
This is despite the fact that upon replacing Mugabe, Mnangagwa was feted
like a king, with many Zimbabweans hopeful at the time that he would turn
around the country’s economic fortunes.
Sadly, that initial goodwill that he enjoyed has now almost wholly
His government’s underwhelming record of efficacy and delivery – despite
the significant energy and endeavour that he has shown – is now beginning
to make the disliked Mugabe and his useless minions look like they were
For a start, the economy is now much worse than when the nonagenarian
departed high office. The prices of basic goods have shot through the
roof, and many commodities like cooking oil and fuel are in short supply.
And the rampant public sector corruption that characterised life under
Mugabe has now got wings under Mnangagwa.
It’s a complete mess.
Mnangagwa himself admitted recently that corruption had seriously
permeated through his Cabinet and other critical arms of government.
He even revealed, stunningly, that one of his Cabinet ministers had asked
for a R5 million bribe from an unnamed investor.
What appears to have particularly worked against Mnangagwa thus far is his
silence when things in the country have gone horribly wrong.
The mayhem that followed the controversial economic measures that were
announced by Ncube in October warranted Mnangagwa’s urgent action – but he
mostly remained mum for weeks on end.
As a result, foreign currency became even more scarce in the country,
goods disappeared from supermarket shelves and prices went haywire –
leading ordinary people to ask where the president was.
This was in contrast to Mugabe, who for all his uselessness, never missed
an opportunity to publicly intervene in matters when things went wrong.
In this regard, and notwithstanding Mnangagwa’s quiet disposition, his
advisors would do well to encourage him to improve his communication
skills and strategy.
But the Zanu PF leader did make a few commendable moves during the year,
including operationalising the National Healing and Reconciliation
Commission – hopefully as the first step towards tackling previous
atrocities such as the emotive Gukurahundi massacres of the early 1980s.
He also had useful engagements with multilateral institutions, as well as
moving energetically to repair years of broken ties with Western
Under his watch, Zimbabwe has also improved somewhat the ease of doing
business in the country, although this is still far from being idle enough
to attract meaningful investment to the country.
Mnangagwa has also now initiated work on much-needed media reforms,
although – again – there has been very slow progress towards truly opening
up the media space, especially in the broadcasting sector where only Zanu
PF-aligned companies have benefited from licences.
So, while the president scores well on effort, he falls flat when it comes
to implementation. Indeed, he promised to do so much, but has so far
delivered very little.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga
The former Commander of the Defence Forces (CDF) – although he seemingly
means well – regularly found himself in no man’s land during the year, as
he appeared to try too hard to make himself relevant as a politician and
as a government enforcer.
To this extent, he too often used his military skills to deal with
situations which required diplomacy – cases in point being his handling of
the nurses’ strike and the industrial action by medical doctors.
However, he did endear himself to both Zanu PF followers and ordinary
Zimbabweans in October, when he pressured Ncube to revise his unpopular
two cents per dollar transactional tax.
The hope is that Chiwenga’s many mistakes were a result of him still
finding his way in politics – and that he will improve with time and
Vice President Kembo Mohadi
The reclusive VP, plagued by family issues and ill-health, was a massive
It’s not an exaggeration to say that many Zimbabweans struggle to even
recognise him. While not as hopeless as one pathetic Phelekezela Mphoko
was, he has major work to do if he is to improve his standing and ratings
To his defence, his health woes were exacerbated by the injuries which he
suffered in the cowardly Bulawayo bombing in June, which killed one of his
Finance minister Mthuli Ncube
As pointed to above, Ncube was undoubtedly the poster boy of Mnangagwa’s
Cabinet in September. He came with a big reputation following his stints
in South Africa, at the African Development Bank and at Oxford University.
But he flattered to deceive, in addition to coming with baggage emanating
from the spectacular demise of his Barbican Bank empire.
When Ncube was given this key post, he told the media that he was going to
prioritise currency reforms – which would see bond notes being scrapped by
the end of December 2018.
Let’s quote him verbatim to illustrate the point.
“I am very clear that there have to be currency reforms and the current
currency approach is not working.
“In doing so, there are three choices that I will explore and pursue with
urgency: One, adopt the US dollar only and remove the bond notes from
circulation through a demonetisation process and also liberate the
“Two, adopt the rand by negotiating to join the Rand Monetary Area, and
this will close the gap in loss of competitiveness against our largest
trading partner, South Africa.
“Three, adopt a new Zim dollar, and here one needs to be clear that it has
to be backed by adequate foreign reserves and macro-economic conditions
for its stability. Foreign currency accounts will also be introduced.
“For sure, currency reforms will be implemented. I would like to implement
this by year-end,” Ncube said only in September.
Alas, Ncube had done very little along these promising lines by yesterday.
The policy measures that he did take caused total mayhem in the economy,
with prices of goods shooting up, fuel disappearing from garages and
parallel foreign currency rates hitting the roof.
Ncube’s unpopular economic stabilisation measures included the
much-criticised two cents tax per dollar transacted.
While the minister has tried very hard to justify his new economic
measures, the hard facts on the ground paint a very different picture,
with the country’s official inflation now at its highest in a decade.
Indeed, so many things have gone wrong for Ncube in the short four months
that he has been in government.
His losing cause was certainly not helped by his ill-advised decision to
hire well-known rouble-rousing influence peddler, William Gerald Mutumanje
– also known as Acie Lumumba – as his spokesman, who made staggering and
unsubstantiated Facebook claims against four RBZ executives and oil mogul
By the time he cut loose Lumumba, who later confessed to have been paid
US$40 000 cash to smear the four RBZ officials, Ncube had caused extensive
damage to the banking sector.
Unsurprisingly, the RBZ executives who had been suspended to pave way for
investigations, have been cleared by the authorities.
Health and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo
The minister’s appointment, which stirred significant controversy as
questions were raised about his qualifications as a medical doctor, was
truly thrown into the deep end when he had to immediately deal with a
deadly cholera outbreak soon after he took over from David Parirenyatwa.
While he was lucky in that the government received overwhelming support
from the corporate world and development partners, who poured millions of
dollars to contain the deadly disease, it still took many lives.
Further tests for him came when retail pharmacies started charging drugs
in foreign currency, while nurses and doctors also went on strike.
To his discredit, Moyo resorted to threatening pharmacies with the
withdrawal of their licences, instead of addressing the well-known core
problems of foreign currency shortages and cartels that enjoy a monopoly
in importing medicines into the country.
On that score too, the former Chitungwiza Hospital chief executive has
dismally failed to handle the doctors’ strike – with the physicians
accusing him of using “divisive” tactics in a bid to end the strike.
The government’s subsequent decision to fire 530 doctors, has also removed
whatever hopes were there that Moyo could be relied upon to find a
solution to the strike.
And his ministry’s latest decision to seek authorisation from the
Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) to extend the shelf life of
anti-retroviral drugs which had long expired, just about sums up his short
career in Cabinet.
Transport and Infrastructure Development minister Joel Biggie Matiza
While commendable work has continued under Matiza in the rehabilitation of
the country’s damaged roads infrastructure, many problems still obtain
within this portfolio.
Like his predecessors Nicholas Goche, Joram Gumbo and Obert Mpofu, he has
dismally failed to deal decisively with corruption at the Zimbabwe
National Roads Administration (Zinara), and to sort out the mess at Air
Zimbabwe – and the dodgy Zim Airways deals – once and for all.
Public Service Labour and Social Welfare minister Sekai Nzenza
The amiable minister Nzenza appears to have made some strides in stamping
her foot down at the National Social Security Authority (Nssa), which had
for long been tainted by serious allegations of corruption and
Most welcome too, Nssa has improved its communications and relationships
with the media and the general public.
Under her watch, ghost workers and graduates of the notorious youth
service known as the Green Bombers have also commendably been cut loose.
However, and following Ncube’s dubious decision to introduce a raft of
controversial policies – including the unpopular two cents tax – Nzenza
now has to deal with looming labour unions unrest, which will test her to
Lands, Agriculture, Water Climate and Rural Settlement Perrance Shiri
For all the negative stereotypes that are flung his way, Shiri is fit for
purpose, as he is a dyed-in-the-wool farmer.
In addition, he has shown that he is one of Mnangagwa’s hardest working
ministers, even as he tends to operate quietly.
Officials in his office say since he was appointed to his position, the
former Airforce of Zimbabwe boss has been to every corner of Zimbabwe,
auditing the state of agriculture and farms in the country.
He has also – refreshingly – not made it a secret that most resettled
farmers have failed the government in its bid to get them to work their
Thus, and while Zimbabwe faces a difficult agricultural season ahead,
largely to natural causes, Shiri’s blueprint and energy raise hopes.
Higher and Tertiary Education minister, Amon Murwira
While one Jonathan Moyo was not the Daily News’ favourite personality
while he was in government and led this ministry, he was not only visible,
but also tried to introduce many innovations.
On his part, Murwira has done very little, apart from reversing his Moyo’s
laudable STEM programme – on the basis that was rampant abuse of resources
in the programme.
Just last week, Murwira was part of the group which misled the nation when
it claimed that striking doctors had not yet qualified as certified
Local Government minister July Moyo
While he has lacked the energy of some of his predecessors, the one good
thing that Moyo has done has been to let MDC councils run their affairs
However, Moyo has his work cut out in other key areas. For example,
Zimbabwe has a long list of people on the housing waiting list – and so
far the new Zanu PF government has not rolled out any meaningful
programmes to fulfil its electoral pledges.
Ahead of the July 30 elections, the ruling party had promised to build 1,5
million medium-income housing units over a five year period to 2023.
This translates to at least 822 houses a day in a year, over 365 days –
and for now this remains a yawning pipedream.
The nation is also still looking forward to the devolution of power to
provinces which Moyo is supposed to spearhead.
Home Affairs minister Cain Mathema
This is another minister who is failing dismally to make a mark.
The Registrar General’s Office is still experiencing serious problems in
processing passports and bribe-seeking police have returned to the roads,
with security roadblocks in every town.
In the meantime, police continue to struggle to deal with crime
generally, as evidenced by the poor prosecution of fraud and corruption
cases brought before the courts.
One of the reasons that has been proffered for this is that dockets are
poorly prepared due to a glaring lack of skills and grasp of the issues
And police also continue to battle to understand the meaning of the
Constitutional Court’s ruling which outlawed Section 27 of Posa, which
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Ziyambi Ziyambi
Ziyambi’s biggest issue has been the government’s lack of real political
will to align the country’s laws with the Constitution.
Energy and Power Development minister Joram Gumbo
While Gumbo often tried his best, the way he communicates regularly
exposes him badly.
He has also failed completely to get a proper handle on the fuel crisis.
He also needs to be told that Zimbabwe has no foreign currency to pay for
fuel and that these shortages have nothing to do with an allegedly
expanding local economy.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Sibusiso Moyo
The much-loved “General Bae” did well to market Zimbabwe well, as he
became the fulcrum of Mnangagwa’s re-engagement drive with Western
Sadly, he was soon struck down by ill-health, which has curtailed his good
work. Still, he remains one of the most promising ministers of Mnangagwa’s
Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa
This is always a tough ministry to superintendent in Zimbabwe, even at the
best of times.
One thing she has done well is to avoid becoming the story, as many of her
predecessors did to their discredit.
In addition, she takes a sober approach to work, as exemplified by her
reaching out to all media houses when she assumed her position.
Going forward, all eyes will be on her to see how the much-talked about
new radio and television licenses will be awarded under her watch – a
national task which all her predecessors failed dismally.
We could not rate the rest of the ministers because of space constraints.