Muchena appointed Minister of Science and Technology


Olivier Muchena who had been Minister of State in Vice-President Joseph Msika’s Office was elevated to Minister of Science and Technology when President Robert Mugabe reshuffled his cabinet in August 2002.

Mugabe was accused by the United States embassy of rewarding loyalty over competence in the reshuffle in which he fired two ministers Simba Makoni and Timothy Stamps.

Makoni was Minister of Finance and Stamps Minister of Health.

Muchena had been deputy Minister of Agriculture before being elevated to Minister of State.


Full cable:



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Reference ID





2002-08-26 13:06


Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 001943









E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/26/2012







Classified By: political section chief Matt Harrington. Reasons: 1.5 (

B) and (D).





1. (C) In a long-anticipated move, President Mugabe named a

new Cabinet on August 24 that looks very much like the old

one, albeit with some portfolios shifted around.   Finance

Minister Makoni and Health Minister Stamps were the only ones

dismissed, while two new Ministers (former Ambassador to the

U.S. and Chief Executive of the Zimbabwe Tourist Authority

Amos Midzi and former Cabinet member Witness Mangwende) and

six new deputy ministers were named. Two new ministries —

Energy and Power Development, and Small and Medium

Enterprises Development — were created. Loyalty, not

competence, appeared to be the primary criterion for the

personnel moves, as Mugabe and his inner circle hunker down

in the face of increasing international and domestic

pressure. The new Cabinet is composed almost entirely of

Mugabe sycophants who will continue to lead Zimbabwe in the

same disastrous policy direction, perhaps with more zeal, and

even worse results (if the new Finance Minister is not up to

the task.) Mugabe’s failure to appoint two new

Vice-Presidents, as expected, leaves observers in the dark

for now about his retirement and succession intentions. End



2. (U) Those who have retained their Cabinet portfolios are

as follows:


Foreign Affairs: Stan Mudenge

Information and Publicity: Jonathan Moyo

Agriculture, Lands and Resettlement: Joseph Made

Justice, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs: Patrick Chinamasa

Defense: Sydney Sekeramayi

Education, Sport, and Culture: Aeneas Chigwedere

Environment and Tourism: Francis Nhema

Local Government, Public Works, and National Housing:

Ignatius Chombo

Mines and Mining Development: Edward Chindori-Chininga

Public Service, Labor, and Social Welfare: July Moyo

Rural Resources and Water Development: Joyce Mujuru

Youth Development, Gender, and Employment Creation: Elliot


State Security: Nicholas Goche


The remaining ministerial portfolios were distributed as



Home Affairs: Kembo Mohadi (formerly Deputy Minister of

Local Government)

Finance: Herbert Murerwa (formerly Minister of Industry and

International Trade)

Transport and Communications: Witness Mangwende

Health and Child Welfare: David Parirenyatwa (formerly Deputy

Health Minister)

Energy and Power Development: Amos Midzi

Small and Medium Enterprises Development: Sithembiso Nyoni

(formerly Minister for the Informal Sector)

Minister of State for State Enterprises and Parastatals: Paul

Mangwana (formerly Deputy Justice Minister)

Minister of State for Science and Technology Development:

Olivia Muchena (formerly Minister of State in VP Msika’s


Minister of State for Land Reform: Flora Bhuka (formerly

Minister of State in VP Muzenda’s office)


Six new deputy ministers were appointed:


Industry and International Trade: Kenneth Manyonda

Mines and Mining Development: Jaison Machaya

Energy and Power Development: Reuben Marumahoko

Local Government, Public Works, and National Housing: Chief

Fortune Charumbira

Rural Resources and Water Development: Tinos Rusere

Small and Medium Scale Enterprises: Kenneth Mutiwekuziva


3. (C) Brian Raftopoulos, one of Zimbabwe’s most perceptive

political analysts, described the reshuffle as a

“consolidation of Mugabe’s position.” He said it is clear

from the personnel moves that Mugabe is “digging in his

heels” and that we are unlikely to see any drawback from the

GOZ’s current policy direction. Eddison Zvobgo, the

estranged ZANU-PF politician who was expelled by Mugabe from

the politburo in 2000 because of his willingness to stand up

to the Zimbabwean President, described the Cabinet changes in

less diplomatic terms in a discussion with us. He claimed

that every member of the new Cabinet is a “strident yes-man

or yes-woman” for President Mugabe. Cabinet and the ZANU-PF

politburo, he continued, have become mere rubber stamps for

Mugabe’s decisions, and not a single member of those bodies

is prepared to challenge the Zimbabwean President.


4. (C) Comment: It is clear that political loyalty was the

prime — if not exclusive — criterion in the re-assignment

of ministerial portfolios. If competence had been a

consideration, the hapless Joseph Made, who denied until

recently the possibility of food shortages in Zimbabwe, would

have been forced to pack his bags, along with many of his

colleagues. The fact that Made and other loyal hardliners

such as Jonathan Moyo, Patrick Chinamasa, Ignatius Chombo,

and Elliot Manyika have been asked to stay is a clear

indication that the GOZ is not about to undertake any major

policy reversals. Makoni’s removal strongly suggests that

the GOZ has no plans to infuse its economic decision-making

with any sense of rationality. In fact, if retread Finance

Minister Murerwa — who preceded and now succeeds Makoni in

this position — does not hold the line on fiscal restraint

and permit the cumbersome but still functional parallel

exchange rate system to continue, the economy could contract

even more rapidly and hyper-inflation set in. We interpret

the reshuffle as a circling of the wagons, as Mugabe hunkers

down with his most trusted subordinates in the face of

growing international and domestic pressure. President

Mugabe was widely expected to appoint two new Vice-Presidents

to replace incumbents Simon Muzenda and Joseph Msika. The

fact that he did not suggests that Mugabe and his inner

circle have not yet reached any definitive conclusions about

the issue of succession. John Nkomo’s apparent demotion from

Home Affairs to a newly-created Minister of State for Special

Affairs position in the President’s office, when he was

widely expected to be named Vice-President, suggests he has

lost ground in internal succession maneuvering.


5. (C) Comment continued: The timing of the reshuffle

likely was motivated in part by growing criticism that the

old Cabinet had no legal standing because its members were

not re-appointed after the March presidential election.

According to the Zimbabwean constitution, the offices of

Vice-President, Minister, and Deputy Minister become vacant

upon the assumption of office of a new President. Although

the question of whether Mugabe was a “new” president appears

open to interpretation, Mugabe likely wanted to avoid any

related judicial challenges. Zvobgo, who is an expert on

constitutional law, insisted that the old Cabinet should have

taken new oaths of office after the election, as Mugabe did.

He informed us that the legal parliamentary committee which

he chairs had rejected 47 decrees (statutory instruments)

issued since the election because the ministers who signed

them had no legal standing, and had vowed to make this an

issue when parliament resumes sitting in late September.

Zvobgo surmised that this is what drove Mugabe to reshuffle

the Cabinet when he did, a move which will give the new

Ministers sufficient time to re-issue those 47 decrees before

Parliament reconvenes.


Biographic information



6.   (C) Detailed biographic information on all of the new

Cabinet members will follow septel. In the meantime, we

wanted to provide the following brief sketches:


Simba Makoni: Makoni had been living on borrowed time since

Mugabe publicly criticized as “saboteurs” and “enemies of the

state” anyone who advocated devaluation of the Zimbabwean

dollar, a small camp of which Makoni had been the most vocal

member. Since his appointment in 2000, Makoni had been a

lonely advocate within GOZ circles of rational economic

decision-making, and Mugabe likely tired of his willingness

to critcize — regularly and publicly — bad government



Kembo Mohadi: Mohadi has engaged in efforts to politicize

food distribution. As reported reftel, he told NGOs

distributing food in Gwanda that they would have to follow

government directives and that their equipment would be taken

over by the GOZ. The fact that he is now, as Minister of

Home Affairs, in charge of Zimbabwe’s police force, does not

inspire confidence that we will soon see a return to the rule

of law.


Witness Mangwende: ZANU-PF’s deputy secretary for

administration, Mangwende has previously served in

Ministerial positions at Foreign Affairs, Information and

Publicity, and Land and Agriculture. Mangwende is a

hardliner who believes strongly in the moral rectitude of

ZANU-PF’s fast track resettlement effort. In a June 2001

meeting between Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa and

incoming AF/S Director Scott Delisi, Mangwende made no

attempt at diplomatic niceties, rudely rejecting the validity

of U.S. interest in internal Zimbabwean developments.




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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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