By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
Renowned economist, Gift Mugano has resigned as board chair of the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Ziscosteel) over attempts to stifle his critical views on government policy. Barely a year after his appointment in September last year, Mugano submitted his resignation on Monday.
In a letter directed to Industry and Commerce Minister, Sekesai Nzenza, Mugano expressed frustration over being criticized for expressing his opinion in public discourse by virtue of holding the highest post in a state enterprise.
“As a follow up to our conversations over my comments on public media on Government policies which are viewed by some sections of Government as in direct conflict with my role as a board member of a State Enterprise, I took a reflection of the concerns and decided to resign from the Zisco board.
“The decision to resign is built on a firm view that I believe that my contribution on the policy discourse is of primary importance which cannot be forfeited in favor of maintaining a micro role as the interim chairman and board member of ZISCO.
“For avoidance of doubt, notwithstanding the arguments that my comments are negative and retrogressive, evidence shows that in a number of times policy makers regularly took up my submissions,” read the letter.
Mugano courted the ire of the government after criticising the recently introduced foreign currency auction system.
“The conditions of the system are a minimum of US$50,000 and maximum being US$500,000. How many companies can afford it? They will go on the black market.
“Where there is an alternative market, people usually opt for that,” he said in comments carried by the weekly Zimbabwe Independent newspaper.
In a statement seen by Nehanda Radio, Minister Nzenza acknowledged his resignation.
“On behalf of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the Minister would like to thank Dr Mugano for his contribution to Zisco Steel in his acting capacity.
“Going forward, the Board Chairperson responsible for leading the development of a vibrant steel strategy will be announced in due course.
“The ZISCO board is now validly constituted with a mature, diverse, and competent team of experienced professionals who individually expressed their strong desire to lead the revival of ZISCO utilising new technologies,” Nzenza added. Nehanda Radio