Cabinet won’t impress investors: analysts

Zanu (PF) ministers are incapable of charting a viable economic direction for the country, let alone standing up to their leader, President Mugabe, say leading political and economic analysts.

Reacting to the recently announced cabinet, the experts said Zimbabwe needed a fresh approach to doing business in order to attract investment and generate international goodwill and confidence. But the new cabinet reflects a deep political desire to maintain the status quo.

Economist John Robertson said Zimbabwe’s fate depended on what Mugabe does as he has remained central to the economic direction. “Zanu (PF) policies are set and driven by the President,” Robertson told The Zimbabwean.

“It was made clear that loyalty was important in determining those appointments. So loyalty and not performance was key. If you got the job by loyalty then you can keep it by loyalty. To display their loyalty they will go to the President not with innovative ideas but to take instructions.

“The individuals in charge of these portfolios have been given those jobs, because they are ready to accept orders,” he said.

Mugabe’s new team in charge of economic ministries like Finance, Energy, Indigenisation, Mines and Agriculture is unlikely to spur international confidence.

Economist Eric Bloch said without any individual decision-making power among ministers, nothing would change. “Some of those ministers do know what is needed but policies will be determined at cabinet level,” he said. “We will have to see what is going to be done at key entities such as the National Railways of Zimbabwe and Air Zimbabwe. We hope (Transport Minister, Obert) Mpofu will be up to the task.”

Human Rights lawyer Arnold Tsunga, now the opposition law-maker for Chikanga-Dangamvura, had no kind words to say about Patrick Chinamasa’s appointment to the finance portfolio. “As acting Minister of Finance he presided over Zimbabwe’s economic collapse and fostered a culture of economic impunity,” he said on Facebook.

“He presided over the printing of the Z$ into extinction and failed to control an errant Reserve Bank Governor. The country experienced the highest inflation ever globally. Industries closed, agriculture collapsed, unemployment was at its highest nationally since during and post colonialism, public services stopped such as schools, hospitals and clinics.”

Political analyst Shakespeare Hamauswa said he was particularly disappointed by the appointment of Dzikamai Mavhaire to the Energy and Power Development portfolio. “Mavhaire cannot deal with the challenges in the energy sector. I think the President should have appointed someone who is well versed with issues in that area. That is the problem you get when political necessity takes over from economic needs,” he said.

The administration resulting from the July 31 election has 38 Ministers and 25 deputies. If Mugabe and Mujuru, his deputy, are added to the lot, the executive has 65 leaders managing a $4.5bn budget economy. “This does not include the newly created provincial councils, which all expect funding from the fiscus,” says commentator Itai Zimunya

“The economic equation of this cabinet is an indicator of sure collapse in the short term. This huge consumptive machinery – 4×4 vehicles, housing, allowances, and travel – plus the depressed tax/revenue base, leakages of revenue from industry and a huge debt means without new capital/funds, Zimbabwe is technically insolvent.”

The World Bank said the new Finance Minister should focus on encouraging domestic and foreign investment, a call already shot down by Mugabe who has vowed to pursue the indigenisation plan with renewed vigour.

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