Emmerson Mnangagwa. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Emmerson Mnangagwa. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Harare — On Thursday, Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa appointed a 20-member cabinet, dropping some members of the old guard while announcing a number of new faces.

The new cabinet immediately faces huge tasks as Zimbabwe’s crippled economy experiences fresh challenges that include a shortage of basic commodities, spiraling price hikes, and an outbreak of cholera, which has left at least five dead in the capital, Harare.

Some of the fresh faces in the new cabinet include finance minister Prof Mthuli Ncube, a UK-based economist; sports minister, former Olympic swimmer Kirsty Coventry; health minister Dr Obadiah Moyo; labour minister Sekai Nzenza; and industry and commerce minister Mangaliso Ndlovu.

Prominent names dropped from the old cabinet include Obert Mpofu; former finance minister Patrick Chinamasa; and past ambassador to SA Simon Khaya-Moyo, each having served for about 20 years.

Speaking to journalists after naming the new ministers at State House in Harare, Mnangagwa said the cabinet would be development oriented. "It’s about development … we are continuing with our 100-day cycles, which means we will publish our achievements [for] the public — or lack of achievements.

"I have discussed [the matter, and] we converged on reducing the number [of ministers] to 20. Initially we had 33; we have agreed to run with a 20-member cabinet and we believe it is ideal to deal with our challenges."

The new cabinet will have its work cut out to deal with some of the challenges, which appear to have worsened since the July 30 elections that Mnangagwa narrowly won against opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, who still maintains the vote was rigged.

Zimbabwe needs urgent economic reforms as the past few weeks have seen shortages of commodities such as fuel, cement and basic foodstuffs, recalling the 2008 economic meltdown that saw the country experience the world’s worst ever inflation. Foreign currency shortages also continue to plague the country whose external debt stands at close to $10bn.

The country’s service and health sectors are in a deplorable state and on Wednesday the government confirmed the cholera outbreak, which has plagued populated suburbs in the capital. In a statement on Friday, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights said it was deeply concerned with the recent cholera outbreak, adding that proliferation of such diseases puts the country in the same stead as war-torn ones.

The association said: "Zimbabwe has, over the years, been a central figure on the world cholera map, together with other war torn or collapsed states. It is deeply worrying that the central and local government authorities have not moved with speed in allocating time, human and financial resources towards finding a lasting solution to the persistent outbreak of diarrhoeal illnesses in Zimbabwe.

"The state of service delivery, ranging from water supply, refuse collection and sewer reticulation, has continued to deteriorate, thereby posing a grave danger to inhabitants of most urban and peri-urban communities."

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