Professor Mthuli Ncube became Finance Minister as one of the five technocrats who were picked on the basis of his competency. The appointing authority even boasted that he had appointed technocrats who had the know how to turn around the economic fortunes of our Republic. He was picked because of his academic background and his history of flirting with International capital. When he came in he promised big but three years on it’s now very clear that we were sold a dummy.
Section 104 (3) confers powers to the President of Zimbabwe to appoint up to five non-parliamentarians as Ministers. The appointments are based on the professional skills and competency of the appointees. Our Finance Minister, Prof. Mthuli Ncube was appointed on this basis. This was a big departure point from the traditional appointments under the leadership of former President Robert Mugabe. Mugabe then used to appoint Ministers along patronage lines and had faith in the same bunch of clueless Ministers who could be recycled until they had led all known Ministries. Mthuli’s appointment therefore gave hope to our success starved nation.
News headlines were awash with praises of Prof. Ncube after his appointment, the Oxford trained professor came in with a rich background of flirting with International financiers including a stint at the Africa Development Bank, AFDB where he served as Vice President, among other institutions he worked with. This was good news to many but the workers were skeptical but gave him a chance.
On his appointment Mthuli Ncube did not disappoint, he made countless promises of pushing for macro-economic stability. He was quoted as saying, “let the US dollar be the call currency of focus. Domestic debt, through government expenditure, bigger shares going towards production,” he also emphasized job creation which he called the silver bullet in any economy.
In October 2018 Prof. Ncube tabled the Transitional Stabilisation Program (TSP) whose primary focus was to achieve the following by December 2020:
- Stabilising the macro-economy, and the financial sector
- Introducing necessary policy and institutional reforms to transform to a private sector led economy
- Launching quick wins to stimulate growth
This program was supported by a Staff Monitoring Program from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) adopted in May 2019.
On conclusion of the monitoring program on 24 February 2020, the IMF declared that the program is now “off-track” evidence on the ground supports the bold assertion. We are in a highly inflationary environment, year on year inflation published by Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency for month for February stood at 540.16% and production is lowering across sectors. The economy contracted sharply in 2019 and is set to contract further in 2020.
Prof. Ncube also dumped the United States dollar, reneging on his own promise to dump the “bad money”, the bond notes. In June 2019 he tabled SI 142 2019 declaring that all other currencies were now outlawed and only the not so clearly defined Zimbabwean dollar is now the legal tender.
Although SI 142/2019 was illegal given that it came in to undo a multi-currency regime which was legislated through an act of parliament, (section 17 of the Finance (No 2) Act of 2009), the instrument has been embraced as law. The move birthed massive foreign currency shortages and government has been forced to climb down on the statutory instrument many a times making concessions for fuel suppliers and other sectors.
The incumbent Minister set his own targets and failed to meet them. Organised labour was strongly against the austerity for prosperity gospel used to market the Transitional Stabilization Program, TSP, labour labeled the initiative as ESAP 2 in apparent reference to the IMF supported Economic Structural Adjustment Program of the early 90s. It was apparent that cutting of government expenditure for an already depressed economy could spell disaster. The bid to lure more debts was obviously going to flop given the arrears hanging over our head and the International isolation born out of gross human rights violations. Even if more debts were to be availed we were against them as we are well aware how debt has impacted on the development of small economies.
Trade Unions predicted the devastating socio-economic impact of the misinformed austerity measures. The lessons of ESAP 1 were missed by our good professor. When we walked from Mutare to Harare, (275km) in December 2018 we were protesting against these measures. We handed a petition detailing how these measures would further depress our economy. Being the man he is Mthuli talked us down and lectured everyone who cared to listen how his ESAP would work. He made six months’ promises of turning around the economy, we have all forgotten how many times he made false predictions of when the economy would recover. The man has no shame he would still come back and make bigger lies using bigger economic jargon even when speaking to the economics lay.
It should be noted that as the Minister was blundering along the worst victim has always been the working class. Companies have been forced to retrench increasing the numbers of the unemployed. Savings and pensions contributed in United States Dollars have been completely wiped out. Salaries for civil servants were slashed from US$ 500 to US$ 35 and private sector is gladly conforming to government precedence.
Prof.Ncube set his own economic program and set own targets, we were against both the program and the targets because our interests were being sacrificed. The program was forced down our throat, we suffered immensely along the way. The targets have not been attained and we are now worse off than we were before he assumed office.
Someone should assume responsibility for destroying the livelihoods of the working class.
We are well aware that other factors including corruption are destroying our economy but Prof. Ncube must assume responsibility of his own failures. Unfortunately the arrogant professor seems to blame climate change and other factors and still lies that he has the economy under control. When public officials display such arrogance they attract backlash from those who they lead.
Prof. Ncube has violated the principles of just administrative action which are captured in the bill of rights of our constitution and regulated by Administrative Justice Act. The man has run the Finance ministry like he were lecturing an economics class. He has never bothered to consult the citizens but kept on pushing policies down our throats. To him we are all dumb and have been waiting for a messiah who has now come down to save us.
Now that the messiah has failed to bring salvation, who should be held accountable?
We have been told by some that the problem is not Mthuli but the whole system. It is their view that we must not target him alone but target the whole system and uproot it. To them when they say system they refer to the ZANU Pf party.
Our view is to the contrary. We are in a struggle fighting for pro poor education and labour justice in Zimbabwe. We are pursuing a revolution and we have no illusions of timelines. It is a struggle that take a life time given the hegemony of global capital, incompetence of local leaders and the lowered bar of citizen consciousness.
Prof. Ncube has declared himself as the enemy of our vision. Cutting expenditure on education derails our quest for pro poor education. Cutting teacher salaries and wiping out their pensions frustrates our endeavor to realize labour justice.
ZANU PF has always been misgoverning this country but we never had such an arrogant and hostile Minister of Finance.
Individual ministers are appointed to run their Ministries, although a government is a team, individuals still demonstrate their competence or lack of it thereof.
The verdict is now out on Mthuli Ncube, a man who was appointed based on his professional skills and competence has failed to deploy such competences to rescue our economy. The “messiah” has failed us he must be hanged.
We will not wait for the day when some hope they would have dismantled the system to reject a bad minister. We will reject Mthuli now because he has failed us. This is going to serve as a lesson to future leaders that citizens have the power to reject you when you fail them.
The systems’ argument is the same reason why even local authority leaders and members of parliament sleep on duty. They just wake up and blame the system even for things they can address.
Mthuli has failed as a person and he must go.
We will not dwell on what he is rumored to be earning and how much he spends travelling to Europe to visit his family. We will confine ourselves to his failure in government.
Good bye Mthuli!
Our advice to you is if President Mnangagwa fails to unappoint you, resign on your own accord before we come after you. No amount of physical security will save you from the wrath of the workers you have reduced to paupers.
Source: Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ)