Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), conveyed concerns about president Emmerson Mnangagwa’s appointment of a new cabinet following his re-election after August’s disputed elections.
The 26-member cabinet lineup, announced on 11 September, saw the reappointment of various officials, including Finance and Development Minister Mthuli Ncube, who lost his bid for a seat as MP in Cowdray Park, Bulawayo; Foreign Affairs Minister Frederick Shava; and Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri.
“The cabinet is illegitimate as it is a product of a disputed election”, according to the CCC party in a 12 September press statement.
The big knock on the list is president Mnangawa’s appointment of his son David Kudakwashe and nephew Tongai Mnangagwa as deputies to the finance and tourism ministers, respectively.
“Constituted of his friends, family, loyalists, and the less qualified, the cabinet is the worst since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980”, read the CCC statement. “Particularly worrying is his appointment of his son and nephew”.
The cabinet devoid of representation from opponents also includes a husband-and-wife duo, Christopher and Monica Mutsvangwa, with the former holding the post of Minister of Veterans of Liberation Struggle and the latter as Minister of Women’s Affairs.
Fadzayi Mahere, a lawyer and CCC’s member of Parliament, disapproved of these changes, dubbed them indefensible on X, and said they are in conflict with Section 194 of the constitution, which states that “appointments must be based primarily on merit, permeated by transparency and professional ethics”.
This disapproval also comes at a time when the Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE) is decrying the reinstatement of Kembo Mohadi as vice president following his resignation in 2021 due to sexual misconduct allegations.
“Mr. Mohadi’s re-appointment stinks in the face of justice for all survivors of sexual abuse by men”, said WALPE in a 11 September statement, adding that he should have reassumed the position after “he had been cleared of all allegations”.
The Academy called for gender balance.
“WALPE recommends that president Emmerson Mnangagwa appoint a capable woman vice president in line with constitutional provisions on gender equality found in Sections 17, 56, and 80”, the organisation reported.
Amid these deepening concerns, the president revised the appointment of Nokuthula Matsikenyere as Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution on the grounds that she was not a legislator during the 12 September swearing-in ceremony, according to the Herald newspaper on X.
Returning to the fold is Kirsty Coventry, a former Olympic swimming gold medalist whose role as Minister of Sports, Recreation, Arts, and Culture has received backlash online for her performance in her previous tenure.
“The reappointment of old and tired loyalists exacerbates concerns about the lack of commitment to fresh perspectives and innovative ideas within the regime”, said the CCC in their statement.
As questions are being raised about the assignment of former ministers, including Coventry, and her competency, the president backed her appointment, saying no one had to give a nod to his decision.
“When a minister is appointed, he or she reports to the appointee, so it is me who gets satisfied whether they are doing well or not”, Mnangagwa told reporters during the televised cabinet announcement briefing. “The fact that I have reappointed her means that I am satisfied. I don’t know who is not satisfied; when they become president, they can remove her”.