Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Friday appointed his nephew as Zimbabwe’s new indigenisation minister in a move that will be closely analysed by would-be foreign investors.
Outspoken businessman and farmer Patrick Zhuwao, 48, was just one of 14 new ministers and deputies to be sworn in by the 91-year-old Mugabe at State House.
Most ministers are being appointed to fill vacancies left after previous ministers died, were reassigned or were sacked because of their loyalty to former vice president Joice Mujuru.
But the salaries, vehicles and allowances that these extra ministers require will put an added burden on Zimbabwe’s already tightly-strained fiscus.
Zhuwao is the son of Mugabe’s late sister Sabina. He’s reported to already head the little-known Empowerment Corporation and to be a keen supporter of the controversial indigenisation law, which requires foreign and white-owned firms to sell majority shares to local black businessmen.
He replaces Christopher Mushohwe, who only last month indicated a willingness to soften the laws. Mushohwe was named information minister. The ministry hasn’t had a substantive minister since Jonathan Moyo was reassigned to the higher education ministry in July.
Also to be sworn in as ministers were Abednigo Ncube, who had the ministry of rural development and the preservation of national heritage created for him.
Former ambassador to South Africa, Simon Khaya Moyo, was also given a brand-new portfolio – policy co-ordination and promotion of socio-economic ventures in Mugabe’s office.
“New Range Rovers, Mercedes Benz, staff, desks etc for new ministers in a [government] that says it is broke. No austerity, banana republic for sure,” tweeted media researcher Rashweat Mukundu.
Journalist Zenzele Ndebele wrote, “These appointments are not good for our economy. Zhuwao will start the whole indigenisation thing again.”