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Zimbabwe Prime Minister Tsvangirai Shuffles His Unity Government Ministers

Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai gives a press conference in Harare to announce the reshuffling of ministers belonging to The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, 23 Jun 2010

Mr. Tsvangirai said his MDC ministers had achieved much since the unity government was formed 16 months ago, stabilizing the economy and restoring the education, health care, water and sewage systems

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has announced a sweeping reorganization of the ministerial portfolios held by his Movement for Democratic Change formation, among other changes putting former Economic Planning Minister Elton Mangoma in charge of Energy, replacing Elias Mudzuri who takes up party duties.

VOA Studio 7 Harare correspondent Thomas Chiripasi reported that Mr Tsvangirai told journalists Wednesday in a news conference at his party’s Harvest House headquarters that the portfolio shuffle was necessary to deliver what he called “real change” to the Zimbabwean people.

Mr. Tsvangirai said his MDC ministers had achieved much since the unity government was formed 16 months ago, stabilizing the economy and restoring the education, health care, water and sewage systems.

He told reporters that the new team has a daunting task ahead of it pushing for democratic reforms, dealing with abuses of power, the rehabilitation of crumbling infrastructure and meeting national energy needs.

Addressing public dissatisfaction with electric power shortages and blackouts, Mr. Tsvangirai replaced Mudzuri with Mangoma, who having collaborated closely with Finance Minister Tendai Biti may be better positioned to arrange financing for desperately needed capital improvements to Zimbabwe's failing power grid.

Mangoma’s economic brief is to be taken up by MDC Deputy Secretary General Tapiwa Mashakada while Mudzuri has been assigned to overhaul the party's organizational structure with elections in prospect in 2011.

Giles Mutsekwa is being shifted out of his post as co-minister of Home Affairs, where he had repeatedly come under fire for lining up with his ZANU-PF counterpart, Kembo Mohadi, on some sensitive issues. The Home Affairs Ministry oversees the police, which continue to appear to take orders only from ZANU-PF officials.

Mutsekwa is to be replaced by Public Works Minister Theresa Makone, whose portfolio is to be taken up by Joel Gabuza, outgoing minister of State Enterprises. The latter position will be filled by Gorden Moyo, a minister of state in Tsvangirai's office, who in turn will be replaced by Deputy Information Minister Jameson Timba.

Masvingo Central Member of Parliament Tongai Matutu is the new Deputy Minister of Youth, Indigenization and Empowerment, taking over from Thamsanqa Mahlangu, who will henceforth concentrate on his duties as MDC national youth chairman.

Senator Obert Gutu was named deputy justice minister over from Jessie Majome, who has become deputy minister of Women’s Affairs. She replaces Evelyn Masaiti, who remains MDC women’s assembly secretary.

Gift Chimanikire replaces Murisi Zwizwai as deputy minister of mines. Zwizwai's new assignment is as deputy minister of media and information.

Mr. Tsvangirai said he had briefed President Robert Mugabe on the changes. He said the new ministers will be sworn in on Thursday. The ZANU-PF-leaning Herald newspaper suggested President Mugabe had not received formal notice of the changes, so he might not make the new appointments official without some delay.

But ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said he sees no problems as it is an internal MDC shuffle. He ruled out a similar reorganization on the ZANU-PF side of the government, saying the team is solid.

Political analysts expressed surprise at Mudzuri's removal from the Energy Ministry and the appointment of Theresa Makone, not regarded as a political heavyweight, as co-minister of Home Affairs.

Analysts added that they considered it unwise to move Mangoma, who was performing well on the economy. They noted that his successor, Tapiwa Mashakada, has occasionally clashed with Finance Minister Biti.

Reached by VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu, Mudzuri said that with little funding at his disposal he could not perform miracles at the perennially disfunctional Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority.

National Constitutional Assembly Chairman Lovemore Madhukuk called the shuffle much ado about nothing.

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