Zimbabwe’s recently re-elected President Emmerson Mnangagwa is facing outrage after appointing his son as deputy minister to the country’s finance ministry.
Mnangagwa’s 34-year-old son, David, was among 26 officials sworn in as cabinet ministers Tuesday despite public anger when the list of the nominees was made public on Monday.
In his expanded cabinet, Mnangagwa’s son is to deputize finance minister Mthuli Ncube while his nephew, Tongai, would serve as deputy minister in the country’s tourism ministry.
Some Zimbabweans have accused Mnangagwa of running the impoverished southern African country as “a family business.”
“Slowly Zimbabwe is becoming a family business. Mnangagwa Pvt (Ltd),” one Zimbabwean wrote on social media platform X.
“The creation of a dynasty is what’s happening right now,” another commented.
Zimbabwe suffers from a raft of economic problems, including high inflation and an escalating cost-of-living crisis. The local currency lost more than half its value to the US dollar in June, and the country owes billions of dollars in debt arrears.
Harare-based economics professor, Gift Mugano, told CNN Mnangagwa’s appointment of his son was unlikely to do much to address the country’s economic woes.
“It’s clearly nepotism. It doesn’t make any sense at all. Zimbabwe’s economy has been in doldrums for the last 25 years and we need the right critical minds to drive the economy.
“So, if you put someone who is just coming from the university in that critical ministry to support Prof. Ncube, who by himself has also failed for the last five years … to change around the economy, the president missed the point on that appointment,” Mugano said.
David Mnangagwa, who completed his law degree at the University of Zimbabwe this month, has also been a member of parliament after being handpicked by the ruling Zanu-PF party through a youth quota arrangement.
Before getting his law degree, he had earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Actuarial Science from Drake University in the United States in 2011, and previously worked as an actuarial associate in the US, according to his LinkedIn profile.
The president’s son told reporters after his swearing in on Tuesday that he was “elated” but also “surprised” about his appointment which he described as “one of the toughest portfolios.”
Zimbabwe’s information secretary, Nick Mangwana defended Mnangagwa’s inclusion of his relatives into his cabinet.
“We are lucky when in the election of MPs there are people with professional qualifications and good experience in the pool the president has to pick ministers from. If some of those happen to be related to him, that doesn’t disqualify them for nomination on that basis only. They are also Zimbabweans,” Mangwana wrote on X.
The opposition CCC party, which placed second in last month’s disputed polls, also criticized the ministerial list which included a couple, Christopher and Monica Mutsvangwa, both associates of President Mnangagwa, as ministers.
“Constituted of his friends, family, loyalists and the least qualified, the cabinet is the worst since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980 … It is yet another missed leadership opportunity for Mnangagwa,” the party said in a statement.
Mnangagwa was sworn in for a second five-year term last week, after securing an absolute majority in an election deeply flawed by observers.