Robert Mugabe packs 61 people into Cabinet

The country may depend on food aid, the currency may be worthless and its people impoverished, but Zimbabwe finalised a bloated Government of 61 ministers yesterday, the biggest executive since independence. At a ceremony at State House President Mugabe swore in 20 deputy ministers and four ministers of state, on top of the 33 full ministers and four ministers of state sworn in last week.

The total means that the Government has 15 more members than provided
for in the Constitution, itself amended two weeks ago to take in the
agreement for a coalition Government. Of particular profligacy are the
ministers of state, positions created for disgruntled Zanu PF members
from the previous administration who had been left out of the new
power-sharing executive. They are in effect Cabinet ministers with
vague or no responsibilities – but with the offices, salaries, expenses
allowances and accommodation that go with the job. Several have already
been issued with new E-class Mercedes Benz limousines.

The final tally came a day after a meeting between Mr Mugabe, Morgan
Tsvangirai, the Prime Minister and leader of the Movement for
Democratic Change, and Arthur Mutambara, head of the breakaway MDC
faction, to finalise the numbers. "It’s profligate," said an MDC
minister. "But it’s the product of a compromise. It’s like a postwar
reconstruction Cabinet." Western diplomats gave the outsize Government
a cautious welcome. "It’s not the wisest of starts," said one. "There
are basically two parties and some accommodation had to be made. "But
it’s not what the Government looks like, it’s what it does. We shall
wait and see." There was little of the embarrassing public wrangling
that took place last week at the swearing-in of the first batch of
ministers, when Mr Mugabe surprised everyone by turning up with a list
of extra ministers he had not bothered to tell his Prime Minister
about. In the end 36 people were sworn in as ministers of various types
amid chaotic scenes as President Motlanthe of South Africa frantically
tried to sort the mess out.

The increase reveals Mr Mugabe’s inability to check the outrage of
members of his old Cabinet – which he referred to last year as "the
worst in history" – who had been sidelined by the MDC’s inclusion.
Three of the five Zanu PF ex-ministers who had to walk disconsolately
away from Friday’s swearing-in ceremony were back in power, beaming
broadly. Survivors from the last Government include Didymus Mutasa, now
a minister of state in the President’s office, who once welcomed the
likelihood of half the population dying of starvation; Emmerson
Mnangagwa, now Defence Minister, regarded as the Zanu PF party’s
corrupt godfather; Sydney Sekeramayi, Minister of State for National
Security, who has been in power for three decades; and Joseph Made,
author of Zimbabwe’s disastrous land reforms, who returns to the
Agriculture Ministry. Mr Mugabe has managed to manipulate the numbers
in the Cabinet to give Zanu PF a majority, reversing the former
majority held by the two MDCs. This may well hamper the MDC’s plans for
big policy changes. Roy Bennett, in line to be Deputy Agriculture
Minister, was spending his seventh day in custody on terrorism and
sabotage charges.

Who got what

Zanu PF: Defence, Home Affairs (shared with MDC); Foreign, Justice and
Legal Affairs; Lands and Resettlement, Agriculture; Mechanisation and
Irrigation; Mining; Local Government; Urban and Rural Development;
Higher Education; Media and Publicity; Youth Development,
Indigenisation and Empowerment; Women's Affairs. Gender and Community
Development; Small, Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development;
Tourism; Environment and Natural Resources Development; Transport and
Infrastructural Development.

MDC (Tsvangirai faction): Finance; Home Affairs (shared); Energy and
Power Development; Public Works; Labour; Water Resources and
Development; Health and Child Welfare; Public Service, Economic
Planning and Development; Science and Technology; Housing and Social
Amenities; Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs; Information and
Communication Technology; State enterprises.

MDC (Mutambara faction): Regional Integration and International
Cooperation; Industry and Commerce; Education, Sport, Art and Culture.

Ministers: Zanu PF 21 ministers MDC factions 20 Ministers of state: Zanu PF 5 MDC 3

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