Zimbabwean President Mnangagwa choses new faces to give his government a face-lift to

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa Monday sworn into office a 20-member Cabinet following his sacking of decades-old ministers. Analysts said Mr. Mnangagwa choose new faces in a bid to give his government a face-lift.

He announced his new Cabinet last week, leaving out names that served under the outgoing President Robert Mugabe who was ousted last year. Mr. Mugabe appointed numerous ministers in his government who subsequently presided over a comatose economy for decades.

Among the newcomers is Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube, a former top official of the Africa Development Bank. He hinted on bringing the Zimbabwean dollar as the country’s legal tender.  “Ultimately, I would want to see the Zimbabwe dollar come back; the sovereign currency, a store of value, legal tender; there are several steps to take before that happens –build foreign currency reserves,” Ncube told reporters soon after taking the oath of office.

Considered by many Zimbabweans as a pragmatist in matters of the economy, Ncube holds a doctorate in mathematical finance from Cambridge University. Analysts hold mixed reviews on the new Cabinet. Farai Gwenhure, an independent political analyst, said: “There are a couple of new faces, but many old faces who had been in the periphery have been brought to the center for reasons of factional consolidation in the Zanu-PF government.

The success of the new ministers will be based on their capacity to stand up against the old guard especially in defense of what is right.

Rashweat Mukundu, former director of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, said: “The Cabinet is an interesting mix of technocrats and loyalists. The key issue is whether President Mnangagwa will give them space to reform Zimbabwe’s dysfunctional systems.”

Claris Madhuku, a civil society activist who is also director of the Platform for Youth Development, said: “The Cabinet provides Zimbabweans with an opportunity to focus on the economy and disengage from the past.”

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