WHEN the former MDC secretary for economic affairs, Mr Eddie Cross announced that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Government was to introduce a new currency next month (November), it didn’t seem like it was just one of those comments by economic analysts as the officialdom now want us to believe.
by Anthony Matutu
As observed elsewhere by other commentators, Mr Cross has always been one of the closest advisers of Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, although he has no proven record of expertise in macroeconomic management. It is also in the public domain that at one time the “Good Professor” tried to irregularly appoint Mr Cross as his spokesperson but the plan could not pass the bar of procedure and the rest is history.
In this regard, the Minister’s unexplainable fixation with the former MDC stalwart who is rumoured to have strong links in Washington’s corridors of power is as astounding as it is strategically naive. This I leave here for now.
Coming to the subject of the day, it would, therefore, not be far-fetched to conclude that the source of what Mr Cross announced is the officialdom itself. This takes us to the key questions regarding how much information on government operations and policies does Mr Cross have?
Is the Minister of Finance abiding by the sacrosanct oath of secrecy on the basis of which all self-respecting governments run? If not, what is the Minister’s interest in risking a prison sentence just to make sure his former MDC friend has important government information? Is His Excellency, the President safe in the face of his Minister’s shenanigans?
This becomes particularly alarming when one imagines that there is a real possibility that Mr Cross, whose hatred for ZANU-PF is well-documented, may also be having access to Cabinet Minutes and other State documents etc. Furthermore, it comes as a no brainer to any patriotic citizen to decide for themselves whether by prematurely leaking sensitive issues regarding a national currency, Mr Cross is acting in support of or against the cause of the economy.
The Hon Minister has probably some explanations to do.
Why would such a serious and sensitive matter be informed to the Nation by a private citizen when there are proper Government channels?
Since the appointment of the Hon Minister, we have seen Mr Cross giving insights into Government policies even before announcements, lending credibility to the fact that he is the “de facto spokesperson” for Treasury. This should be something of interest not only to the Public Service Commission but to the Presidency as well.
Is the Minister of Finance having other Principals other than the President, who trusted and appointed him? I ask because the trust being put in Mr Cross by the Hon Minister is a not just a subject of debate but increasingly worrying.
He also recently appointed him to the Monetary Policy Committee and how he is going to handle confidential information at the Central Bank is anybody’s guess. The impact of his actions may create policy implementation challenges unless something is done to plug leaks that may arise from premature announcements.
My challenge to the Minister is to clearly spell out the role of Mr Cross in Government and why he seems to be delegating his role to a private citizen of this Nation. In yesteryears, ZANU PF accused Prof Jonathan Moyo of having infiltrated the party and the government to bring about “regime change” and he was labelled a weevil that needed Gamatox. Time will tell whether, Prof Ncube is just going about his business to transform the economy or very soon he might also be labelled a weevil.
On the diplomatic front, the path taken by the Minister in promoting the pro-Western economic agenda risks isolating Zimbabwe from our all-weather friends, China and Russia. In the event of an onslaught by the West, the country is unlikely to benefit from their veto powers at the United Nations Security Council. The current pro- western policy should, therefore, not be undertaken at the expense of our erstwhile friends as lessons from Libya show that the West cannot be fully trusted unless its deliberate!
Recent events to ban importation of diamonds from Zimbabwe and the crafting of the Cecil Act, that will see the banning of the movement of trophies from Zimbabwe to America may be early indicators of where the relations with the West could be heading towards. The political leaders need to be wary of such developments and its potential implications, especially against the backdrop of accusations of human rights violations, which have now been documented by the UN.
Something could be brewing!!!
Anthony Matutu is a political scientist based in South Africa. He writes here in his personal capacity and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org