Military officials given roles in Zimbabwe’s post-Mugabe cabinet

Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Zimbabwe’s new president has announced a fresh cabinet with key roles given to veterans of the ruling Zanu-PF party and senior soldiers, and no posts for the opposition.

Emmerson Mnangagwa took power after a military takeover and popular protests ousted Robert Mugabe last week.

Many hoped the 75-year-old would give leading opposition politicians significant roles in an “inclusive” government in line with his promises to reach out to all “patriotic Zimbabweans”.

Analysts said the decision was “a negative pointer”, while opposition figures and activists reacted strongly to the announcement overnight.

Tendai Biti, a former finance minister and opposition politician, called the move a “betrayal”.

“We are now dealing with a junta. We have the answer to if the coup was done to give Zimbabwe a chance or to protect the private interests of certain individuals and the ruling party,” Biti said.

“Now we the citizens have to regroup and [fight] for a normal elected political authority.”

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

“It’s very concerning. It’s a very hardline … government. Very little changes for the struggle that is ongoing to open up political space,” he said.

“A lot of people feel a lot more concerned this morning than they ever felt under the Mugabe regime.”

Mnangagwa’s appointment of party loyalists and the military – as well as leaders of the powerful war veterans – will concern international observers hoping for democratic reform after 37 years of Mugabe’s autocratic rule.

It will also complicate negotiations for the massive financial aid Zimbabwe needs to repair the damage done to the once-thriving economy over recent decades.

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