HARARE – The announcement of a new Cabinet by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his subsequent revision of it to address the constitutional mistakes he had made should not be treated as a small thing.
Mnangagwa is historically a stickler for detail and is known for meticulous planning and therefore his gaffe was something that was least expected.
There are many reasons why this was not expected and one of them is that he’s a lawyer and has experience both from being a solicitor and a former Justice minister.
In drawing up his list of Cabinet ministers last Thursday, Mnangagwa violated the Constitution by appointing more than the stipulated five non-constituent MPs to take roles of ministers. He appointed eight.
According to section 104(3) of the Constitution, the president may appoint up to five ministers and deputy ministers from outside Parliament.
The president also had to revise his Cabinet to comply with Section 104 (4) which demands him in appointing ministers and their deputies to be guided by considerations of regional and gender balance. Still there is no gender balance.
As Justice minister and later vice president, Mnangagwa is well-versed in these procedures but to be fair to him, he was overwhelmed by the pressure to form a new government. But he needed a trusted person to run through his choices for compliance purposes.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa
The president’s faux pas should act as a timely reminder to Mnangagwa that he needs good advisors who can support him in the implementation of his programmes. Part of the reason why former president Robert Mugabe lasted so long in power was his uncanny ability to see this long before they were due.
Perhaps his embarrassing fall was the only thing that he failed to see.
Having been by Mugabe’s side for nearly 54 years, it is hoped that Mnangagwa learned a lot from his close association with the deposed 93-year-old.
And it is fair to say that his long time in government and being a pillar of the Mugabe administration should spur Mnangagwa to do better than the man he replaced.
Mnangagwa has a difficult task in trying to extricate the country out of the black hole that Mugabe created and he needs the right people in government; be they ministers or advisers.
The false start that he has made is not a yardstick of his performance but it’s worth noting.