Friday, September 11, 2015 9:12 pm
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Friday reshuffled his cabinet, a day after a new opposition party was launched.
It was also the third reshuffle in one year.
Mugabe appointed 14 new ministers, most of them supporters of his deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is leading the race to succeed the 91-year-old president.
Among the new ministers is Mugabe’s nephew, who is now minister in charge of a government push to give blacks greater control of the economy.
Patrick Zhuwawo takes over as Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment in place of Christopher Mushohwe, who assumes the information portfolio.
Zhuwawo becomes the third person to lead the empowerment ministry since Mugabe and his party won elections in 2013, heading up the drive to force foreign-owned firms, including mines, to sell at least 51 percent of their shares to locals.
The reshuffle was intended to consolidate the power of the ruling Zanu-PF party, said Eldred Masunungure, a political analyst at the University of Zimbabwe.
Mugabe claims to be in good health, but his frequent trips abroad for medical treatment have sparked speculation that he might not be able to contest the elections set for 2018.
On Thursday, former finance minister Tendai Biti launched the Progressive Democratic Party while accusing Zanu-PF of failing to give the people of Zimbabwe a new opportunity.
Biti launched his party two days after former vice president Joice Mujuru unveiled a blueprint for another new party that is still to be officially founded.
Mujuru had earlier been tipped to succeed Mugabe, who then sacked her in December after accusing her of plotting to kill him.
Mugabe’s wife, Grace, is also seen as a presidential hopeful.