Blame game doesn't work

HARARE - Finance minister Mthuli Ncube should be ashamed of himself for the unprecedented events that culminated in the suspension of senior Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) officials.

This was an uncalled for action done to cover up for the ministers’ careless and inconsistent pronouncements, which were the source of panic and current economic malaise.

As Norton legislator Temba Mliswa noted recently, it is the minister who created the current confusion, which has shaken the economy. It has also created doubt on the ability of technocrats in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Cabinet to fully appreciate our problems and how they emerged.

If Ncube understood this, he would not have talked about removing bond notes by December 2018 without considering the potential implications of his statement.

He added fuel to the fire in his address at Chatham House by indicating that the economy was self-dollarising and he was not going to stand in the way.

When such statements are made to economic agents who previously lost their savings, the next logical thing is to shift from bond notes and Real Time Gross Settlement system balances to greenbacks and assets to avoid being caught unaware again.

No matter what the minister said afterwards, the market was already aware of his “actual position” regarding fiscal policy.

Seeing the chaos created by his statements, blame had to be pushed somewhere.

With the tacit approval of some higher authorities, Acie Lumumba was let loose, resulting in the suspension of RBZ officials, without following basic tenets of justice and other internal processes.

By portraying the RBZ as the instigator of the country’s economic problems, it negatively impacted on the credibility of the central bank.

And yet we all know that the challenges manifesting as monetary have always emanated from the fiscal side of the equation.

Ncube should simply own up to his misguided and inconsistent utterances and the poor implementation of the new tax regime instead of destroying the character and dignity of his subordinates.

However, if the RBZ officials have cases to answer, this must be pursued through the right channels, taking into account the doctrine that says everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

The current focus on individuals will not help the situation that requires Ncube to reign in on excessive public spending and achieving fiscal sustainability.

Even if he is to bring a new RBZ governor from mars, he or she will still realise that a governor is just a junior officer in government with neither the authority nor legal powers to instil fiscal discipline.

Comments (3)

It will be a sad day indeed if we're going to discover that some of these "technocrats" know jack....and they were over-rated.

Sagitarr - 29 October 2018

If Mthuli has any iota of conscience and whats to serve the little dignity thats left of him he must resign forthwith.

Sinyo - 30 October 2018

Was it not only yesterday that we were asking for youthful faces and technocrats in government. What has gone wrong so soon after our wishes were fulfilled. Give Mthuli Ncube a bit of time. Lets support him for next six months even if his prescriptions are painful at the moment. I feel he is on the right paths as long as the president has both their backs covered.

righttochoose - 31 October 2018

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