The appointment of Dr Frederick Shava, as the new Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister has riled Zimbabweans who said it was another indication that the ‘new dispensation’ was failing to break free from the past.
Shava was currently serving as Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to the United Nations, and takes over the vacant post following the death of Dr Sibusiso Moyo.
Shava was implicated in the infamous Willowgate vehicle scandal in 1988 where he and other cabinet ministers were accused of buying cars and reselling them at overblown prices, corruptly making profits.
He then resigned from government and was reportedly quoted saying he had disappointed the then president, late Robert Mugabe.
Shava’s history is also tainted by his complicity in the Gukurahundi genocide where speaking in Parliament in the early 1980s advised the Minister of State Security to order the shooting of dissidents and dissident supporters.
In interviews with CITE, analysts and general Zimbabweans criticised President Emmerson Mnangagwa for failing to embrace change in his latest cabinet picks.
Ncube said Shava’s appointment was telling and significant in that it showed President Mnangagwa is not sincere at all in his so-called engagement with chiefs, churches and civil society on the Gukurahundi atrocities.
“If anyone thought Mnangagwa had repented, this appointment should put that illusion and naivety to rest. This gukurahundist appointment is wholly unacceptable and stinks to high heavens,” he said.
A history teacher at a private school, Emmanuel Sibanda, concurred the president “continues to disappoint and put his foot in his mouth” as the individuals chosen to be in government were “cronies and cabal members who have nothing new to offer.”
“The appointment of Dr Shava goes against the principles of the new dispensation ridding itself of criminals surrounding Mugabe and now a known criminal is brought back to cabinet, worse still he is expected to prop up a regime that has become infamous for looting and plunder as the people suffer in poverty,” Sibanda said.
However, another political analyst, Methuseli Moyo objected that President Mnangagwa did what any president would do, which was appointing somebody they trust and knew very well.
“Dr Shava has experience and exposure in the diplomatic service. Yes the 1980s cars scandal is an issue, but for now he is Zimbabwe’s top diplomat and must be given the chance to do the job,” he said.
Moyo added that not much was known about Felix Tapiwa Mhona who was appointed the new Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development.
“Again, let us give them the benefit of the doubt. As for Kindness Paradza at the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services quite frankly that is a very welcome appointment for the journalism fraternity. He is one of their own, a real veteran who should use his experience and political position to build bridges and help eradicate issues of friction between and media.
Posting on his Twitter account presidential spokesperson, George Charamba said Shava was an accomplished scholar with a PhD in complex disciplines of Health Sciences.
“Amazing how before Independence he had already mastered Nematology and Parasitology! He served as Minister of Labour. He served in Beijing as Zimbabwe’s Ambassador before being redeployed to the UN where he became President of ECOSOC (the United Nations Economic and Social Council), a key wing of the UN in charge of social and economic rights,” he said.
Former cabinet ministers such as Walter Mzembi indicated that Shava was the face of Zimbabwe in the community of nations at its highest level for a decade while Savior Kasukuwere, the new foreign affairs minister had been “punished and pardoned.”
“He spent quite a long time as a back bencher and I will not judge him harshly seeing that he did show remorse and exercised extreme discipline over the years. He made a mistake and acknowledged his failings,” Kasukuwere said.
But Zimbabweans were not buying those arguments, as one resident Shamai Malueso questioned whether “Zanu PF is full of deadwood such that the key portfolios are given to ageing politicians who have been around the block for too long and have lost the vision to be dynamic.”