via Mugabe’s recall of Moyo ‘hints at hard line’ BDlive by Ray Ndlovu
President Robert Mugabe announced a new cabinet on Tuesday drawn from members of his Zanu (PF) party, with the leader making the surprise inclusion of a former minister, Jonathan Moyo, who he fired from his government eight years ago.
Political observers said the new cabinet, which was reduced from 33 to 26, did not inspire confidence and indicated a return to a hard-line political stance.
Nevertheless, Mr Mugabe also appeared to want to appease foreign investors and aid agencies by removing the hawkish Saviour Kasukuwere from the indigenisation ministry and replacing him with the more moderate Francis Nhema, son-in-law of the late vice-president Joshua Nkomo.
Mr Mugabe’s announcement put an end to weeks of speculation. He was sworn in for a seventh consecutive term in office last month, but had remained tight-lipped about the choice of his inner circle.
Several ministries, such as education and finance, have ground to a halt, waiting for the appointments to be made.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), which is crying foul over the election results, indicated that it would not participate in a cabinet led by Mr Mugabe, saying to do so would only help to “sanitise” the new government.
Political observers said the biggest winner in the new cabinet was Mr Moyo, a key Zanu (PF) strategist in the election, who was appointed as information and publicity minister.
Mr Moyo was fired from the same post in February 2005 by Mr Mugabe after he was linked to a plot to block the ascendancy of Joyce Mujuru to the post of vice-president, casting his support in favour of Emmerson Mnangagwa at a Zanu (PF) elective congress in 2004.
Chairman of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute Rashweat Mukundu said Mr Moyo’s return appeared to indicate Mr Mugabe would adopt a hard-line stance against his political opponents.
“Mr Moyo’s appointment is the most surprising of all appointments, judging that Mr Mugabe earlier had said he would not include in government any person who had lost their parliamentary seat,” said Mr Mukundu.
Mr Moyo lost his seat in Tsholotsho to the MDC-T’s Roselene Sipepa-Nkomo.
Speculation is that Mr Mugabe will appoint him in one of the five nonconstituency seats he is entitled to fill in parliament under the new constitution.
Mr Moyo, now a staunch defender of Zanu (PF), is credited with being the architect of stringent media regulations in the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act in his first stint as information minister.
“Clearly, he (Mr Mugabe) is in a fighting mode politically and the inclusion of Mr Moyo, who thinks like him and can implement his policies with dead accuracy, is evidence to that.
“The private media has to roll up its sleeves, as we will see a return to the 2000-era crackdowns,” said Mr Mukundu,
One of the main architects of the new constitution, former justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, was rewarded with the all-important finance ministry.
His colleague Mr Kasukuwere was shafted to the environment and water affairs ministry, a decision most said was meant to pacify foreign investors.
Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, a Mugabe loyalist, was retained as minister of foreign affairs.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose ambitions to succeed Mr Mugabe are well known, was moved to the justice ministry from the ministry of defence. That portfolio was given to Sidney Sekeramayi. Mr Mnangagwa’s main rival in the presidential succession race, Joyce Mujuru, retained the vice-presidency position.
Former Zimbabwean ambassador to South Africa, Simon Khaya Moyo, who was tipped to become the second vice-president, was inexplicably appointed senior minister without portfolio.
Other inclusions in the cabinet are Andrew Langa (education), Walter Mzembi (tourism), David Parirenyatwa (health) and Kembo Mohadi (home affairs).
Obert Mpofu, who was largely responsible for Zimbabwe’s chaotic and secretive diamond mining project, was shunted to the transport ministry and was replaced by the politically unknown Walter Chidakwa.
Struggle stalwart Oppah Muchinguri was appointed the minister for gender.
Former information minister Webster Shamu was demoted to the ministry of information technology, postal and courier services. Olivia Muchena retained the higher education portfolio.
“This is not a reform-oriented cabinet. Mr Mugabe had to stick with people that think like him,” said political analyst Dumisani Nkomo in Harare.