Zimbabwe’s new president packs status quo cabinet after ‘bloodless coup’

Zimbabwe’s new government appointed party loyalists and army leaders to cabinet positions, disappointing those who expected a change in leadership.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, C, here at his November 24 inauguration, appointed party and military loyalists to his cabinet on Friday. Photo by Aaron Ufumal/EPA
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, C, here at his November 24 inauguration, appointed party and military loyalists to his cabinet on Friday. Photo by Aaron Ufumal/EPA

Emmerson Mnangagwa ascended to the country’s presidency after Robert Mugabe resigned on Nov. 19. A military takeover — some observers called it a “bloodless coup” — ended Mugabe’s 37 years in office days earlier. On Friday, Mnangagwa reappointed Patrick Chinamasa as finance minister, Winston Chitando as mines minister, Maj. Gen. Sibusiso Moyo as foreign affairs chief and Ziyambi Ziyambi as justice minister.

All have ties to the Mugabe administration through the military or the ruling Zanu-PF party. The opposition People’s Democratic Party had hoped for a more inclusive government but was shut out of cabinet appointments.

“It’s the antithesis of most people’s expectations, more of the same old, same old,” PDP Vice President Nelson Chamisa told Bloomberg News. “Mnangagwa never reached out to us. That didn’t happen.”

The appointments indicate that the government is unlikely to change under Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s vice president. In his inaugural address on Nov. 24, Mnangagwa said his administration would address the country’s hyperinflation, a 90 percent unemployment rate, crumbling infrastructure and a public cash shortage. On Friday, the conversion rate of a Zimbabwean dollar was 362 to the U.S. dollar.

International activists have also targeted the country over what they call routine human rights violations on the part of the government.

Human rights activist Doug Coltart said the new cabinet “does not represent a new Zimbabwe but the entrenchment of the old failed political elite.”

By Ed Adamczyk