President Mugabe Reshuffles Cabinet – The Zimbabwean president, on Monday, reshuffled his cabinet amid tension and tussle for his replacement in the next general election.
The reshuffle which expectedly targeted his vice, Emmerson Mnangagwa and his faction, Lacoste, had little to do with performance but everything to do with succession and preparations for the ZANU PF Conference in December.
Prior to the reshuffle, many people predicted that Mugabe was never going to fire Mnangagwa, who’s a major threat to his last presidential ambition. But there were strong indications that the president might end up weakening his vice in order to frustrate his presidential ambition.
And so it happened as predicted. Mugabe ended up stripping his powerful deputy of the post of justice minister, a position he has been handling since he was appointed VP in 2014.
Being in charge of Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs gave Mnangagwa access to political authority in the administration of justice and also made him the Leader of Government Business in Parliament.
But now, the portfolio is gone, literally making him a Vice President without portfolio, unlike his co-Vice President, Phelekezela Mphoko, who retained his peace and reconciliation portfolio.
The biggest casualty in the reshuffle, apart from Mnangagwa, is Minister of Finance Patrick Chinamasa. He was pathetically demoted from the Finance portfolio to the Minister of Cyber Security, Threat Detection, and Mitigation.
Chinamasa’s redeployment as ‘the superintendent of the internet’ has been welcomed by Robert Mugabe, with the president saying the new post coincides with the growth of social media and internet-based media groups.
The Zimbabwean government has been battling to filter and control what people put up on social media after witnessing a stay-at-home demonstration by activists such as pastor Evan Mawararire and his #ThisFlag movement last year, organized via the social media.
Chinamasa is saddled with the responsibilities of introducing a cyber crimes bill to criminalize the posting of false information on the internet, revenge porn, cyber-bullying and online activity against the government.
Another Zim official who was given a new portfolio is Mr. Ignatius Chombo, a staunch Mugabe supporter who hails from his rural home district. Chombo does not have a finance background but was picked for the minister of finance. He was formerly Zim’s Home Affairs minister.
In total, Mugabe moved 10 ministers to other portfolios, fired at least four and made eight new appointments in the reshuffle.
Apparently, Monday’s reshuffle is clear demolition job and Mugabe’s deputy was the chief target. The 93-year-old veteran leader, who has been in power since independence in 1980, is due to stand for next year’s election.