HARARE – Zimbabwe takes its next step into the post-Mugabe era soon, when its new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, names two vice presidents – appointments that will signal whether he is breaking with the country’s old guard.
Mnangagwa, whose sacking as vice-president triggered the removal of Robert Mugabe, made no comments to the media on Wednesday before the first meeting of the ruling ZANU-PF party’s bosses. Party spokesman Simon Khaya-Moyo has said he will choose his deputies either this week or later.
Khaya-Moyo told reporters after the meeting that Mnangagwa assured senior party officials they would serve their full terms, comments that allayed concerns of a purge of the G40 faction loyal to Mugabe and his wife, Grace.
Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, who was considered an ally of the G40, has already been sacked from the party and his post, and some Mnangagwa supporters have called for unspecified action against G40. But the president has urged citizens not to undertake any form of “vengeful retribution”.
Party and government officials have refused to comment on speculation in privately owned newspapers and on social media that Mnangagwa is likely to make military chief General Constantine Chiwenga one of his deputies, as a reward for spearheading the de facto coup that ended Mugabe’s rule.
The new president has been criticized by some Zimbabweans and opposition parties for appointing Air Marshall Perrance Shiri as lands, agriculture and rural resettlement minister and Major-General Sibusiso Moyo as foreign and international trade minister, rather than bringing in younger candidates less associated with the Mugabe era.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who is the party’s legal affairs secretary, presented a report on the economy at Wednesday’s meeting, where he reiterated that the “new dispensation” in the country had brought hope and confidence in the economy, Khaya-Moyo said.
Chinamasa promised in a budget speech last week to re-engage with international lenders, curb spending and attract investors to revive the economy.
Mnangagwa is under pressure to reverse the economic decline before elections next year and has vowed to focus on rejuvenating the struggling economy and creating jobs. Once seen among Africa’s most promising economies, Zimbabwe now has an unemployment rate exceeding 80 percent. – Reuters