HUMZA Yousaf has appointed a minister for independence in the ongoing government reshuffle.

SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn, who served as the higher education minister under Nicola Sturgeon, will take on the role.

It comes after Yousaf pledged to create the position during the leadership campaign

Reports suggest Hepburn's (below) role will be largely in the back corridors of power, co-ordinating independence work across the administration.

STV reported that the position would be "very close" to the new First Minister.

The National: Official opening of Corseford College, Johnstone. Pictured is Jamie Hepburn MSP..The Capability Scotland run facility, Corseford College, was officially opened as the country's first complex needs college with a ceremony featuring Minister for Higher

The appointment is certain to draw fury from the Unionist parties in opposition.

But speaking to the Sunday National during the leadership race, Yousaf asked: “Why on Earth would you not use the machinery of government to fund the [independence] cause?”

He went on: “Remember we’re elected on the platform of independence - perfectly legitimate for us to be using the Government to further that cause.

“I think it’d be exceptionally foolish to essentially disarm yourself of a really important asset in the way of the Scottish Government.”

SNP MSPs Emma Roddick, Natalie Don, Paul McLennan, Graeme Dey and Joe Fitzpatrick are also understood to be set to join the government in junior minister roles.

Commenting on Hepburn's appointment, Alba general secretary Chris McEleny said that “any independence-supporting First Minister should be the de facto minister for independence". 

He went on: "Across Scotland people are struggling to heat their homes and pay their bills whilst Scotland is a land of energy plenty. 

READ MORE: Richard Murphy: Independence feels further away, but case does not rest on SNP

“Independence is now an urgent social necessity for the people of Scotland. It is bitterly disappointing that, before the end of the first day of the new administration, independence has been relegated to a role only fit for a junior minister.

"This low-profile role hints that there will be no sign of an independence campaign anytime soon, despite the people of Scotland voting time after time to have a choice on their future. We have a new Scottish Government but continuity won’t cut it. It’s time for independence.”

The news of ministerial appointments comes after Yousaf announced the nine MSPs who would join him in Cabinet.

Shona Robison, the deputy first minister, was also handed the finance brief while Michael Matheson was given Yousaf's old role as Health Secretary.

Yousaf supporters Jenny Gilruth, Màiri McAllan, and Neil Gray were also brought onto the top table, which has an average age of just 44.1. With six women to four men, it is also the first majority-female Cabinet since devolution.