Zimbabwe opposition condemns 'deadwood' Mugabe cabinet

Zimbabwe's opposition dismissed President Robert Mugabe's new cabinet as political "deadwood" Wednesday as the veteran leader swore in new ministers after disputed elections.

The opposition MDC party called the new cabinet "the same crop of tired ZANU-PF politicians," referring to Mugabe's party.

"Regrettably, what we have seen is a recycling of the same exhausted minds that have presided over the dramatic demise of what was once the jewel and bread basket of Africa," said the MDC in a statement.

Mugabe, 89, was declared winner of July 31 elections by a landslide of 61 percent of the vote.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, his top rival and former prime minister, claimed the polls were "a massive fraud" and a "sham."

Western countries said the vote was neither free nor fair, while African countries said they were free but would not pass them as fair.

At the swearing-in, Mugabe reiterated his plans to force foreign-owned companies to cede 51-percent ownership to black Zimbabweans and pledged to work to rebuild the fragile and slowly recovering economy.

"Zimbabwe must just make progress," he told reporters.

The country is struggling to combat mass unemployment and come up with food aid for millions of people in need.

The new cabinet is full of veterans and ZANU-PF loyalists, including some ministers who, like Mugabe, have been in office since independence in 1980.

Ex-justice minister Patrick Chinamasa has been handed the task of steering the economy.

Official Zimbabwe unemployment statistics are hard to come by, but independent economists estimate that more than eight in 10 people are out of formal work.

Political upheaval after an election in 2008 sent the country's economy into a tailspin marked by astronomical inflation that reached 231 million percent.