PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is set to carry out a mini-cabinet reshuffle upon his return from his annual leave in a bid to right the fast deteriorating economy.
Analysts told Radio VOP they see the Zanu PF leader reshuffling his Cabinet decks less than six months after appointing a new team following his landslide election victory last year which was hotly disputed by rivals.
World Bank resident economist Nadia Piffaretti last week said Zimbabwe’s economy was set to grow by 4.2 percent in 2014, a lower figure than government’s projection of a 6.1 percent growth mentioned in the national budget statement last month.
Piffaretti also said the weakening South African rand will further affect Zimbabwe’s ailing industries as imports will become cheaper.
Prospects of a reshuffle have further been fuelled by the imminent swearing in of former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor as senator to replace Kumbirai Kangai, who died last year.
The analysts argue that a deteriorating economy and the gloomy outlook will force Mugabe to reshuffle his team, particularly the ministries of Finance and Economic Planning, Industry and Commerce and Energy and Power Development which should play a critical role in the recovery of the economy.
Likely to be dropped or reassigned are Finance and Economic Planning Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha and Energy and Power Development Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire.
Bimha is struggling to revive industry with many companies continuing to go into liquidation while Mavhaire has failed to make ensure reliable energy supplies. The recent embarrassing policy reversal on mandatory blending of petrol with ethanol has not helped his case either.
Gono is widely tipped to be appointed the next Finance Minister.
Political analyst Ricky Mukonza said Mugabe is keen to reshuffle Cabinet but may delay the changes for political reasons.
“Yes he will because the current Finance Minister is showing that he is out of depth in that portfolio. Meanwhile the situation continues to deteriorate and requires a character like Gono given his experience in managing the previous crisis,” he said.
Gono was the RBZ governor for the past decade when Zimbabwe experienced an agonising economic meltdown forcing him to implement unorthodox economic solutions that kept Mugabe’s government in power despite rising anger and instability during that period.
Another analyst Sydney Masamvu concurred with Mukonza saying: “It’s inconceivable that Mugabe and Zanu PF will allow a person of Gono’s calibre to remain a backbencher at this moment of crisis. Gono is likely to be appointed to cabinet thereby necessitating a mini reshuffle.”
Herald columnist Nathaniel Manheru, widely believed to be Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba, on Saturday further stoked the speculation with his public censure of Chinamasa and Bimha.
On Bimha, Manheru wrote: “Why, too, even your ministerial name is a mistake at birth mistake that ruins all that follows.
“Circumstantially, you have become a minister of Trade, better still Imports, Sir. And you are doing a very bad job because your imports are evading banks and Zimra, leaving this economy anaemic.”
Manheru also ripped into Chinamasa saying: “Himself a lawyer, Chinamasa perplexingly allows anger to outrun discretion. He asks the organisers why they invite people like Robertson to forums such as this! That was fatal, and a bad guy won, thanks to this human propensity for pity, for identifying with the supposed weak, the underdog.”
It remains to be seen what happens next but the dice has been cast and time will tell.