New Cabinet needs new Perm-Secs, ZNCC urges ED

(pic: Jekesai Njikizana/AFP)

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s latest line-up of Ministers needs to come with a fresh set of permanent secretaries, according to the head of a business group.

Chris Mugaga, CEO of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, says beyond a new Cabinet, businesses would like to see deeper changes in the civil service.  

“What is much more of concern is not necessarily the personalities who are comprising Cabinet, but rather the institutional framework on deliverables. The culture of delivery must be in place. Those who fail to deliver should be shown the exit door,” Mugaga told ZBC.

“It’s also vital to appreciate that Cabinet (ministers) work with permanent secretaries. We want to believe that, going forward, there will also be a review of the calibre of skills leading different ministries in the form of permanent secretaries. If that’s done, then we can analyse the impact these Cabinet ministers will have.”

While Ministers only provide policy direction in government, Ministries are run by Permanent Secretaries, who act as the CEOs of the departments. They are supported by directors of various units.

Despite promises to overhaul the civil service when he first became President in 2017, Mnangagwa has only delivered cautious changes that have not changed the performance culture of his bureaucracy.

In 2021, Mnangagwa introduced performance-based contracts for Cabinet Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and heads of parastatals. These were reviewed earlier this year, with Mnangagwa telling a contract signing ceremony at State House in March that the review was needed “to foster a high-performance culture across the entire public sector”.

On Monday, Mnangagwa announced a 26-member Cabinet. He kept Finance Minister Mthuli in place, giving him the extra portfolio of investment promotion. Also retained was the Minister of Agriculture, Anxious Masuka, who Mnangagwa rated as his best Minister earlier this year. Mnangagwa however moved Mines Minister Winston Chitando to local government, replacing him with Zhemu Soda, who will come from the Ministry of Energy.

Responding to Ncube’s reappointment, CZI president Kurai Matsheza said: “His doors are always open and we hope to continue engaging from where we left as we chart the way forward for industry.”