Zimbabwe’s new leader drops 2 ministers after public outcry

Emmerson Mnangagwa
Emmerson Mnangagwa
Image: © Sunday Times.

 Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Saturday dropped two ministers he had appointed to his new cabinet just a day earlier, a move widely seen as a response to a public uproar over the nominations.

Mnangagwa, 75, named his cabinet overnight Thursday, and is expected to appoint two vice presidents following a special ZANU-PF congress in mid-December. But he quickly replaced education minister Lazarus Dokora with Paul Mavima, a professor and also a lawmaker in the governing ZANU-PF party.

Professor Clever Nyathi was dropped as labour minister in favour of Petronella Kagonye, also a ZANU-PF lawmaker, though Nyathi will remain as special advisor on national peace and reconciliation.

A government statement said the changes were necessary to “ensure compliance with the constitution and considerations of gender, demography and special needs.” But Mnangagwa has come under fire for recycling officials from the era of ousted president Robert Mugabe, and for naming two military allies to top positions in his new cabinet.

Dokora, who had served in Mugabe’s government since 2013, has faced heavy criticism for introducing changes to the country’s education curriculum which were widely seen as threatening the once-revered school system.

Sibusiso Moyo, a major general who on November 15 went on state TV to announce the military’s takeover — a power grab which led to the 93-year-old Mugabe quitting the presidency a week later — is the new foreign affairs minister.

The new lands minister is the airforce boss Air Marshal Perence Shiri, who had previously headed a special North-Korean trained unit that is alleged to have committed atrocities during a crackdown on a rebellion in the western Matabeleland province in the early 1980s in which an estimated 20,000 people were killed.

Information minister and war veterans leader Christopher Mutsvangwa will assume the role of special advisor to the president. Mnangagwa is set to swear in his cabinet on Monday after taking over from Mugabe, who ruled the southern African country for 37 years.

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