President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said he is setting up a leaner Cabinet that will not tolerate bureaucratic sloth as an excuse for stalling service delivery to citizens and investors. The new Cabinet, President Mnangagwa said, would see the merging of some ministries to avoid duplications and contain unnecessary expenditures to improve productivity.

Addressing his first meeting with permanent secretaries in his capacity as the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces at his Munhumutapa offices yesterday, President Mnangagwa said rebuilding of the national economy required urgent attention from the new Government.

“I am currently in the process of putting together a new Government structure, which should be essentially leaner,” he said.“This, of course, will entail merging of some line ministries in order to remove functional duplications, as well as contain unnecessary expenditures, so as to enhance productivity and efficient delivery of service.

“I want to assure you that no one will be laid off, except those who have reached retirement age. Those whose ministerial posts will be abolished will be re-skilled and reassigned to other areas in the public service. I am sure you appreciate that the rebuilding of our national economy and improvement of the livelihoods of all our citizens is both urgent and imperative.

“Our people have endured economic hardships for over two decades, and now expect this Government to turn things around, within the shortest time possible. Let us take advantage of the positive optimism among our people, ushered in by this new dispensation, and do our best.” President Mnangagwa said people had high hopes for his administration and public officials should adopt a high performance work ethic. He said focus should be on growing the economy.

“Our prime focus thus should be on the implementation of practical solutions to grow our economy, create jobs and boost the incomes of our people,” said President Mnangagwa.“My Government will have no tolerance for bureaucratic slothfulness, which is quick to brandish procedures as an excuse for stalling service delivery to the citizens, investors and other stakeholders. Our mantra should be peak performance, peak performance and peak performance.” President Mnangagwa said heads of ministries were key in the realisation of set goals.

“As heads of ministries, your role is supremely critical in the realisation of the aspirations of all our citizens and stakeholders,” he said. “I will certainly count on you for success in turning around the fortunes of our economy. Indeed, together we can do it.”

President Mnangagwa said his meeting with the permanent secretaries was one of the many interfaces he was having with various Government agencies for purposes of familiarisation and to provide general direction to be taken by his administration. In an interview with journalists after the meeting, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda said President Mnangagwa was focused on reviving the economy. When asked when a new Cabinet was likely to be put in place, he said: “Maybe in two or three days time. The thrust is on the economy and that is why he says the Cabinet would be leaner and more focused.”

President Mnangagwa’s assumption of office as Zimbabwe’s second Executive President since independence in 1980 has been dubbed the dawn of a new era, as people expect a new economic trajectory and major policy shift from the previous administration of former President Cde Robert Mugabe. There are high expectations that much attention would be on the economy that has been affected by several nagging problems. Yesterday’s meeting was also attended by Dr Sibanda and his deputies, Chairperson of the Public Service Commission Dr Mariyawanda Nzuwah and the Commission’s secretary Ms Pretty Sunguro.