No to lawyers for Finance Ministry – Mnangagwa warned

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa

ECONOMIST Gift Mugano said President Emmerson Mnangagwa can only turn around the economy if he has a lean and robust Cabinet of not more that 18 ministers, mostly technocrats.
This came as MPs will be sworn-in tomorrow, after which Mnangagwa will announce his Cabinet.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

Speaking during a Mass Public Opinion Institute discussion last Thursday, Mugano, who is the executive director of African Economic Development Strategies, said Mnangagwa must avoid appointing lawyers as Finance ministers as they were not good for the job.

“For 38 years, there was no stability in the economy because of politics, and we experienced an economic meltdown when war veterans were paid hefty packages, when Zimbabwe took part in the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the land reform and the MDC formation in 2000 which brought a lot of fighting with government.”

Mugano said Mnangagwa’s success will depend largely on the calibre of ministers that he will appoint.

“We should have a Minister of Finance who is an economist, not a lawyer because they will not understand what I am talking about.

“From 2009, we had a cumulative trade deficit of $30 billion, and our exports were $2,8 billion and imports $6 billion. We were importing maize through corruption because the price of maize is $390 (a tonne) and politicians were bringing maize from Zambia without doing any farming and selling it at $390.”

He said Zimbabwe performed dismally in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), while countries like Mozambique got $5 billion FDIs annually and Zimbabwe received $250 million.

Mugano said the government was bringing in “Chinese masquerading as investors, yet they opened supermarkets selling slippers”.

“The economy is in intensive care (unit) and what the new government promised was to amend the indigenisation law which they did, reform State enterprises and parastatals, deal with corruption – but nothing has been done, and we hear about investment deals but I checked for evidence and I did not find it. We only see ground- breaking ceremonies for small companies.”

Mugano said there was need for behavioural change in government and an end to corruption and laziness.

“If you see them putting a lawyer as Finance minister, you must know that we are in trouble. There are many economists in Zanu PF and technocrats. There is nothing magical that can be done by someone who is Finance minister, yet he did not study economics,” he said.