Country Risk

Zimbabwean Cabinet reshuffle, purge of ruling party gatekeepers indicate economic reforms, international re-engagement are key government priorities

12 September 2018

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa (left) shaking hands with Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube (right) during the swearing-in ceremony for Zimbabwe’s new cabinet ministers in Harare on 10 September. Source: Jekesai Njikizana/AFP/Getty Images: 1030505410

Key Points

  • Mthuli Ncube’s appointment to the finance portfolio appears to reinforce the “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” message that President Emmerson Mnangagwa is sending to get the economy back on track by attracting much-needed foreign direct investment (FDI).
  • The Zimbabwean Cabinet appointments most probably affirm Mnangagwa’s commitment to structural and economic reforms, including dealing with debt arrears, tackling corruption, and enacting pro-business reforms under a new investment law.
  • The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance is highly likely to continue challenging the legitimacy of the ZANU-PF administration through media channels; however, further protests like those witnessed in the aftermath of the announcement of the presidential electoral result on 4 August are unlikely to reoccur.


Zimbabwean president and leader of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) on 7 September 2018 announced a new cabinet following his victory in the 31 July 2018 elections, the first since the resignation of long-serving president Robert Mugabe in November 2017.

Those taking up important portfolios in the 20-member Zimbabwean Cabinet (reduced from 33) include Mthuli Ncube, an Oxford University professor and the former vice-president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), who took over Patrick Chinamasa’s finance and economic planning portfolio. Chinamasa lost his parliamentary seat despite his role in negotiating with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other multilateral creditors to resolve Zimbabwe’s USD1.8-billion debt arrears.

Political stability

Others taking up important portfolios include Major General Sibusiso Moyo, who is retained as Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister; Air Chief Marshal Perence Shiri, who is also retained as Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate, and Rural Resettlement Minister; and Winston Chitando, a mining industry veteran and former vice-president of the Zimbabwean Chamber of Mines, as Mining Minister. Although President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s cabinet is made up of his key allies, it has been composed with an eye to dealing with the increasing divide within the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) about the centrality of the military in the administration.

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