ZIMBABWEANS have welcomed the appointment of a ‘diverse, dynamic and youthful’ cabinet, as described by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who unveiled the team to help him rebuild the economy on Friday.
The team of 20 cabinet ministers including the youthful Kirsty Coventry as youth minister and an experienced banker Mthuli Ncube as finance minister, was hailed by many on social media as a hopeful step in the right direction.
75-year-old Mnangagwa is under pressure to rebuild an economy hit by lack of foreign investment, unemployment above 80 percent and acute dollar shortages that have hobbled some imports.
Mnangagwa won a disputed vote on July 30, the first election in the southern African nation since Robert Mugabe was removed by the army last November after nearly four decades in power.
Fixing the economy
In appointing Ncube, Mnangagwa wants to show the international community that he is giving priority to the economy and moving away from the Mugabe years where important cabinet posts were given on patronage lines.
‘It sounds very encouraging especially on the choice of finance minister. That’s a very good foundation for the country’s economic recovery prospects,’ said John Robertson, a Harare-based independent economist.
Ncube, 55, is a former chief economist and vice president at the African Development Bank (AfDB) and was also a lecturer in finance at the London School of Economics and Wits Business School in South Africa.
He founded Zimbabwe’s Barbican Bank and asset management company, which were, however, put into administration by the central bank in 2005 after only two years of operations. The bank’s licence was later cancelled.
Ncube will be tasked with crafting an economic recovery programme as well as coming up with strategy to pay off Zimbabwe’s $1.8bn arrears to the World Bank and AfDB.
The youth docket
Zimbabwean swimming Olympic gold medallist Kirsty Coventry, 34, was a surprise pick for the youth and sports ministry in a cabinet that did not include any opposition officials.
Mnangagwa also appointed ZANU-PF national chairperson Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri as Defence Minister, taking away a key security portfolio from Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, the retired general who led the coup against Mugabe.
Mnangagwa appointed eight new faces to his cabinet but there was no place for long serving ministers Patrick Chinamasa, Obert Mpofu, David Parirenyatwa and Simon Moyo.
‘We would want to grow, modernise and mechanise our economy. We believe in the next five years, we will be able to transform our people into middle income citizens,’ Mnangagwa told reporters after his chief secretary announced the cabinet list.