Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday unveiled a new cabinet in which two senior military officials who played a central role in bringing him to power were given key jobs.
Sibusiso Moyo, the army officer who went on state TV on November 15 to announce the military’s takeover of power, has been appointed foreign minister, while air force commander Perrance Shiri is the new minister of lands, agriculture and rural resettlement.
Zimbabwe’s longtime ruler, Robert Mugabe, stepped down a week after the military’s move, allowing his erstwhile Vice President, Mnangagwa, to return from hiding out in South Africa to pick up the reins as interim President a week ago.
The 22 members of the cabinet are all members of the ruling Zanu-PF party, dashing Zimbaweans’ hopes that Mnangagwa might include opposition representatives in his government.
The 75-year-old had promised in his inauguration speech last Friday to reach out to the opposition, and he pledged sweeping reforms and a crackdown on rampant corruption.
The main opposition MDC-T party has previously raised concerns over what role the military might play ahead of next year’s election, with Mnangagwa at the helm of the security forces.
Shiri is known to many Zimbabweans as the former commander of the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade, which played a major role in massacres in western Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland in the 1980s.
Tens of thousands of civilians are estimated to have been killed in what Mugabe called “Gukurahundi,” a word in Shona, the country’s main language, meaning “the rain that seeps away the chaff.” The government’s stated objective for the operation at the time was to target dissidents.
Mnangagwa was the head of state security and the Central Intelligence Organization during the wave of terror.
The cabinet appointments take immediate effect, said Regis Chikowore of Zimbabwe’s Information Ministry. A swearing-in ceremony is scheduled for Monday morning.
Following the announcement, some Zimbabweans took to social media to vent their anger and disappointment.
“Up until now, we had given the putsch (coup) the benefit of the doubt. We did so in the genuine, perhaps naive, view that the country could actually move forward. We craved for change, peace and stability in our country. How wrong we were,” wrote Tendai Biti, Zimbabwe’s former finance minister and a prominent government critic.
Zimbabwean media mogul Trevor Ncube tweeted: “President Mnangagwa’s cabinet is very disappointing. Largely the same people that caused this crisis have been recycled. The honeymoon comes to an end and reality dawns. His concern seems to have been rewarding those who brought him to power and Zanu-PF unity.”
Mnangagwa, who promised a “leaner” cabinet after taking power, has fewer ministers than in Mugabe’s last government.
Notably, Patrick Chinamasa was brought back as finance and economic development minister, a post he previously held under Mugabe. At his inauguration, Mnangagwa promised reforms to lift Zimbabwe out of poverty by jump-starting the country’s stagnant economy.
Chris Mutsvangwa, head of the influential Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, which threw its support behind Mnangagwa, is the country’s new information minister.
Mnangagwa also appointed six new deputy ministers and 10 ministers of state for provincial affairs. He is yet to appoint two vice presidents, which Zimbabwe’s constitution allows a sitting president to do.
Minor changes to Mnangagwa’s team were announced Saturday in order to ensure compliance with the constitution.
Mugabe’s former allies in the G40 faction that opposed Mnangagwa were dropped from the cabinet, including Sydney Sekeramayi, Zimbabwe’s longest serving minister, who had been in government since 1980.
CNN’s Laura Smith-Spark and Brent Swails contributed to this report.