It is time for Mthuli Ncube to go

Prof. Mthuli Ncube

Finance minister of Zimbabwe, Mthuli Ncube, PhD (Cantab), has become the poster child of everything that is wrong with the management of affairs in Zimbabwe. He must go. Then and only then, will Zimbabweans be able to go back to the drawing board and start fresh.

Letter from America with KENNETH MUFUKA

In a nutshell, he represents (willingly and unwillingly) the worst of Zimbabwe; the best education money can buy, mastery of the lexicon one would think they created the dictionary with Merriam Webster, they know everything, they teach the world how to run their affairs, they have engineers with titles on their behinds, but the potholes in Bulawayo have been known to swallow Mazda pick-ups. In short, Pettinah Gappah has concluded that they are an embarrassment to the world for always begging.

It is, therefore, time for him to go. Now! In the exit package I will include his sidekick, Dr John Mangudya. Notice the lofty titles which denote their much learning, signifying nothing.

Rwanda’s Paul Kagame does not have a single title, but has more sense than both these brothers combined.

Ncube no longer carries any credibility, even if he were to change course in midstream, as he has done several times, the market no longer pays him any mind. I will list his sins below, each one deserves the severest of punishments, the least of which would be a minimum of 10-year banishment from Zimbabwe.

Taking a cue from his discredited Zanu PF masters, he ignored his own wisdom, that there are universal laws that operate whether humans try to bend towards themselves or not.

Gresham’s law says that bad money drives out good money. Ncube confessed knowledge of this law on August 31, 2018. “The bond note currency is bad money and we know in economics bad money drives out good money.” Ncube should have known better.

That is sin number one. Keep your own advice. Honourable men resign when their wise counsel is not followed.

Sin number two comes from the Zanu PF manual. Learn nothing from history. Price controls are useless from time immemorial.

When Roman Emperor Diocletian issued his list of maximum prices for goods and services, including haircuts and prostitution, the rhetorician Lactantitius of Nicodemida (301 AD) had a field day. Entire towns failed to produce goods they had formerly produced for export, those with fixed salaries, (especially soldiers) found that their money was increasingly worthless as artificial prices did not reflect actual costs.

Prostitutes and barbers particularly found the going insufferable as their efforts had been underpriced.

There is nothing new under the sun. Ncube should have educated his masters or resigned. Having failed to do either, he finds himself riding a tiger.

Sin number three is tampering with the value of money. Once one tampers with monetary values, everything goes haywire. On November 12, 2019, grain millers bought a tonne of maize at $3 548. Three months later, the cost had risen to $55 900.

As indicated above, once the value of money has been interfered with, there is no knowing when and where the tiger’s ride will end and what will happen to its rider.

As I write, July 7, I am informed that men of learning at the University of Zimbabwe, including the great mind Hasu Patel, have quit for greener pastures. With a salary of $7 000 per month (US$70), they can hardly fill a car with petrol.

Lactantitius, mentioned above, referred to soldiers in particular. Away from home, their fixed salaries no longer lasted a month.

Even if soldiers and nurses’ salaries, pegged at $3 000, were doubled, the buying capacity remains insufficient to sustain a living.

Sin number three is the growing lawlessness in the management of financial affairs. It was hoped that Ncube’s arrival at treasury would bring some form of financial sanity to government agencies, and indeed he boasts about a surplus.

The truth is that top government managers are paying him no mind and are becoming more boisterous. Hopewell Chin’ono reported on July 3 that eight Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Agency (Zera) officers bought Toyota four-wheel drive vehicles from their agency for Z$2 000 each. The officers — Ranga Ngoni (Z$80 860), Jacqueline Ngoni, (Z$80 960) MZ Tapera (Z$101 075) and five others — then rented the same vehicles to Zera, while they received free petrol as well.

The amounts in parenthesis are the sums they received in mileage allowances in one month. There are some things which even if they were legal, look wrong and should be avoided.

Similarly, the Health authorities splashed over US$8 million on Range Rovers while hospitals lack basics like bandages and protective gear for staff. That money can equip more than one major hospital.

You sluggard, before you go begging, look in your backyard and see what amounts of monies are going to waste.

The shamelessness of these brothers allows them to assume that while they splash money everywhere, the US embassy is responsible for feeding their poor and paying for HIV-Aids medicines.

Return of the US dollar

On October 18, 2018, Ncube announced with fanfare the Transitional Stabilisation Programme which would be replaced by a five-year plan in December 2020. This plan would “operationalise Vision 2030…acknowledge policy reform initiatives of the new dispensation to stimulate domestic production, exports, rebuilding and transforming the economy to an upper middle income status by 2030”.

There is a method to this madness. Zanu PF believes that they are gods and in the beginning there was their word, and if they say, operationalise, stimulate through command agriculture, command street dealers from selling US dollars, then it will be done.

They talk “big noise about market forces” yet tell everybody what to do. One cannot withdraw his US dollars at will. One cannot withdraw his wages from a bank. Zanu PF tells the farmers what to grow through command agriculture. Government sets prices for corn (maize), for bread, and for petrol.

As prices chase the US dollar, government remains in a state of denial. I have left my severest damnation to the end. I am compelled to use the word “allege” in the next sentence. My sources “allege” that the chief malefactors in this government are paying themselves in US dollars even as they forbid workers access to the same benefits.

The hope that Ncube’s arrival at treasury would bring house cleaning has disappeared. A leaked memo from Police General Headquarters described the lives of policemen as that of daily torment. Ncube is the clean face that represents this charade. He must go for his own sake, or forever be remembered as the face that covered up “vices most notorious”, a leadership steeped in “idleness, treachery, revenge, cruelty, impudence, stealing, lying, profanity, debauchery, nastiness and intemperance”, a ruling class that has extinguished natural law and reproofs of conscience.” So wrote Encyclopedia Britannica about our race in 1798.

Peace.