The cash-strapped Zimbabwe Football Association has moved the 63-year-old across from his duties as technical advisor to the association.
Pagels has been working on training coaches and developing rural football in Zimbabwe for the last three years as part of a German development aid project.
His contract, financed by the German government, runs until July but Zimbabwe want him to stay through their World Cup qualifying campaign, which ends in September.
Zimbabwe have just a single point from their first two matches in Group G against Mozambique and Guinea and next play favourites Egypt away in March next year.
Pagels, who has no experience at major club or country level, takes over from Rahman Gumbo, who resigned last week after Zimbabwe's failure to qualify for the 2013 African Nations Cup finals.