By Maxwell Sibanda
As long as Finance minister Mthuli Ncube doesn’t play the politics of his appointing authority as well as of the ruling Zanu PF party he will keep on tripping over himself, analysts contend.
These sentiments come after Ncube recently appointed Acie Lumumba as chairperson of the ministry’s Communications Taskforce, only to fire him three days after political pressure was brought to bear on him.
The Lumumba incident followed on the heels of Ncube’s announcement of the infamous two percent tax which triggered price increases and saw the shortage of basic goods and fuel.
The two percent tax was met with resistance from some quarters in Zanu PF and left the Cabinet divided as most accused Ncube of rushing to make policy decisions without consulting them.
Crisis Coalition spokesperson Tabani Moyo believes it’s a problem for one to think he or she has the powers to change the ruling party from its character and passage.
“Many have tried before without success. In the end the party reminds the people who joined it later that they are merely guests and that by their nature guests are expected to bid farewell.
“The ruling party is yet to press a reset switch and still trying to calibrate internal success battles. This plays out in the critical areas of the government such as finance as is happening now,” said Moyo.
Opposition politician and lawyer Obert Gutu says Ncube is coming straight from the world of private business and academia.
“This is pretty much his very first experience in public service as Finance minister in a troubled economy.
“Initially, he will have to go through a crash programme in handling a highly sensitive political office.
“You can’t be a Cabinet minister and completely ignore playing the politics of your appointing authority as well as of the ruling party at the time. It simply doesn’t work that way.”
Gutu said he has been a deputy minister before in the inclusive government and knows precisely what he is talking about.
“Ncube will eventually get it right, but make no mistake about it, he will have to learn very, very fast and also to adjust to the political dynamics within Zanu PF.
“The guy is anything but stupid. It’s only the politics around him that he doesn’t seem to understand at the moment.
“If he doesn’t navigate his way swiftly and smartly, he might actually be toppled by the political waves that are circulating around him,” said Gutu.
Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme believes Ncube has a clue in terms of economics but he has no clue on how politics drives everything including economics in Zimbabwe.
“Most of his pitfalls and blunders are due to poorly managed politics. He needs to understand the art of statecraft and Zimbabwean politics.”
Political analyst Vivid Gwede said the fact is Ncube has no clue how this system is rotten starting from the head like a fish.
“Most of the problems start from the high echelons of government. Now he has to plod along tripping over himself. The national crisis is not just economic, it is political first and foremost.
“It has to do with entrenched patronage networks, corruption and capture of critical institutions. That system needs overhaul and cannot be cleansed by Mthuli’s CV,” said Gwede.
He added that the introduction of a two percent tax and appointment of Lumumba are terrible signs of desperation from the Finance ministry.
“The five strategic clusters of the Transitional Stabilisation Programme include governance, and I think that is the alpha and omega. Without a new governance culture, these projections of a middle-income country by 2030 are all pipedreams,” said Gwede.
Political analyst Piers Pigou said the Lumumba hiring and firing incident suggests a level of desperation from Ncube.
“To hire someone who has the reputation of a snake oil salesman does not instil confidence.
“This has also reinforced perceptions of internal factionalism within the executive and underscores the importance of greater transparency in the country’s political economy; who controls what sectors of the economy and how are they related to the political and military leadership and their respective interests.”
Social analyst Rashweat Mukundu believes the ministry of Finance has failed to present a coherent message on its plans and actions leading to mistrust and chaos in the economy.
“The events of the past two weeks indicate that the minister of Finance has hit the ground running unfortunately to nowhere. Mthuli is caught between his ill-advised actions and the political system he seeks to change,” said Mukundu. DailyNews