By Mutsa Makuvaza and Nompumelelo Sibanda
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s appointment of Frederick Shava to the position of Foreign Affairs Minister shows that Zimbabwe now has few places to turn in the world apart from China, a world-acclaimed political analyst has reckoned.
Professor Stephen Chan, a best-selling author and Professor of World Politics at the University of London made the remarks yesterday as Shava’s appointment continues to draw mixed reactions.
Shava has served as Ambassador to China from 2007 to 2014. He thereafter was appointment Zimbabwe’s permanent representative to the United Nations by Robert Mugabe, a position he occupied till Mnangagwa brought him back to taken over from Sibusiso Busi Moyo who died last month.
Speaking on the appointment of Shava to Cabinet, Professor Chan said the experienced diplomat would probably be a good Agriculture Minister, not Foreign Affairs.
“New Foreign Minister Shava was chosen I think because of his time as Ambassador in China, clearly highlighting the fact that Zimbabwe has now few places to turn in the world apart from China. In fact, given his educational qualifications, he would be a good Agriculture Minister,” said Chan, without elaborating.
However, celebrated international lawyer and author Petina Gappah begged to differ.
“I felt a sort of horrified and amused pity to learn that Ambassador Shava was “plucked from obscurity”. The UN posting is the plum posting in foreign service.
“Multilateral postings – New York, Geneva, Addis – are the most strategic then key bilaterals like Beijing Brussels Pretoria, Washington DC,” Gappah wrote on Twitter.
Gappah added that Frederick Shava was already by default somewhere close up to a Foreign Affairs Minister by virtue of his seven years representing Zimbabwe to the U.N..
“I suspect because Foreign Affairs to many in the opposition is about the US, EU and UK axis pane rima rakadzika about what the Ministry and its embassies do.
“Multilateralism is such a big part of the ministry’s work but folk are concerned mainly about three actors!” she added.
However, an editorial in the privately owned NewsDay on Wednesday said Shava’s appointment was testament of President Mnangagwa’s appetite to recycle deadwood.
“We note with concern that President Emmerson Mnangagwa seems to be replicating his predecessor, the late former President Robert Mugabe’s style of recycling dead-wood, particularly his pick for the Foreign Affairs portfolio, Frederick Shava.
“It’s clear Shava is being rewarded for lobbying for Mnangagwa’s acceptance by the international community following his controversial victory in the 2018 elections.
“As Zimbabwe’s ambassador to the United Nations (UN), Shava must have used his lofty position to do the bidding for Mnangagwa and it is now payback time.
“Shava has always been “the golden boy” of Mnangagwa ever since the Willowvale scandal days. But Zimbabwe doesn’t need golden boys to prosper,” reads the NewsDay editorial in part.
Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa’s fierce critics and former Ministers Saviour Kasukuwere, Walter Mzembi and Kudakwashe Bhasikiti have all praised the appointment of Shava to the post of Foreign Affairs Minister.
Walter Mzembi, who served for long as Tourism Minister and later on as Foreign Affairs Minister, has described Shava as an experienced diplomat who is well versed with Cabinet matters and should hit the ground running
“This is an appropriate appointment. He (Shava) is an experienced diplomat with multilateral U.N. and Sino geopolitical experience. Cabinet is not new to him; should hit the ground running.’
“Congratulations to Ambassador Shava and ED Mnangagwa,” said Mzembi, who is in exile.
Mzembi urged the opposition to not oppose just for the sake of it.
“Opposition politics is a wilderness journey and ineffective for a variety of reasons, one of them is failing to interpret issues. In Shava’s deployment, I don’t see what many are critiquing. Please, see the bigger picture of setbacks for military power-sharing deals,” added Mzembi.
Another exiled former Minister, Kasukuwere, said Shava has the appropriate credentials for his new role.
“I agree (that) Dr Shava is a balanced and experienced diplomat. He has the appropriate credentials to go with his new assignment and a matured approach to issues. All the best Dr Shava,” said the former Local Government Minister.
Regarding Shava’s involvement in the infamous Willowgate scandal, Kasukuwere said that was no issue to embellish Shava’s appointment into Cabinet.
“He was punished and pardoned. He spent quite a longtime as a back bencher and I will not judge him harshly seeing that he did show remorse and exercised extreme discipline over the years. He made a mistake and acknowledged his failings.
“No one is forgiving him, but he already is our top diplomat at the UN. The law took its course and he was pardoned. How many times should be face the music for a matter settled?
“I submit that he has the character to handle the nations external relations at this point in time. Some of the new faces have also failed dismally, unfortunately,” Kasukuwere added.
He reckoned that President Mnangagwa’s administration could benefit immensely from Shava’s credentials if the Presidency gives him enough legroom to operate.
“If the powers listened to him, they probably will benefit from his experience especially at the UN. He is a political senior and undoubtedly has the gravitas to push through reasoned positions. I doubt he will support some of the barbaric tendencies that are costing the nation,” said Kasukuwere.
Former Masvingo Minister of State Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, who is also no longer in Zanu-PF, said Shava’s appointment was one of the good things done by the Mnangagwa administration.
“I agree with Walter (Mzembi. Dr. Ambassador Shava is well grounded for the new post. He is one of the few with right credentials for the job. Zvagara munhu haanakiri tose.
“For starters, look at how the American Cabinet is made up of OLD TIMERS. Congratulations once more to my neighbour,” said Bhasikiti. – Zimbabwe Voice 🔺