Zimbabweans have been sharing their disappointment over news that a new cabinet appointed by President Emmerson Mnangagwahas not made a break with the past.
Most people woke up to news on Friday that the cabinet not only included veterans of Robert Mugabe‘s previous cabinets, but prominent members of the military.
‘A cabinet or a regiment?’
Airforce commander, Perrance Shiri is now the new agriculture minister. Brigadier-General Sibusiso Moyo – who Zimbabweans got to know on November 15 when he went on state TV to announce a military takeover – is the new foreign minister.
“Is this a CABINET or a REGIMENT?” quipped Zimbabwean comedian, Carl Joshua Ncube on Twitter.
Across Zimbabwe’s vibrant social media community, the mood was glum.
Tweeted @SiphoMalunga: “This looks like the unexpected reality I spoke about. And the Zimbabwe dream has turned into a nightmare so that it’s awful to be asleep and equally terrible to be awake.”
Many had anticipated that Mnangagwa, sworn in amid great hopes last Friday, would use the new cabinet to build bridges in politically polarised Zimbabwe and reinforce the message that the country was changing tack after years of crisis and uncertainty under Mugabe’s rule.
There were even suggestions Mnangagwa would include members from opposition parties in his new government.
But that was not to be.
“Most of the people in this new Cabinet don’t possess any new and refreshing ideas to breathe life into the comatose economy,” said Obert Gutu, spokesman for Morgan Tsvangirai‘s MDC party.
Gutu said the new cabinet showed there would be “absolutely no fundamental change in the government’s approach going forward.”
Ready for elections
Tendai Biti, who was finance minister in the 2009-2013 coalition government and credited with stabilising the economy, wrote on Twitter: “Up until now, we had given the putsch the benefit of the doubt. We did so in the genuine, perhaps naive view that the country could actually move forward… How wrong we were.”
But presidential spokesperson George Charamba said calls for another unity government now were impractical, with elections just round the corner.
“If you look at the schedule for elections we are about plus or minus six months before they are held and certainly it would not make sense to talk about (a government of national unity) for those remaining months,” he told Friday’s state-run Herald daily.
“Parties must ready themselves for elections,” he said.