|Service chiefs thwart threat|
|Saturday, 07 July 2012 22:01|
He said his 2009 national budget had nothing to do with figures as he sought to change direction in terms of managing the economy following years of hyper-inflation.
“I was appointed Acting Minister of Finance with effect from January 1 2009. Naturally, as anyone assuming new responsibilities, I spent the first few days getting briefing about the state of the economy and the state of our coffers. Arising from those briefings, I was in a state of panic because the coffers were not in a good state. To stay they were not in a good state is an understatement: the coffers were empty.
“As you know, there had been hyperinflation to a point where there was no foreign currency, the local currency had been successfully undermined by the forces which imposed sanctions,” said the minister. He said what made the situation worse was that there were a lot of turf wars between the Ministry of Finance and the Reserve Bank and the Ministry of Finance and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.
Minister Chinamasa said he later gathered energy and was galvanised into action.
“Because this was a security issue now, I involved people who would normally have nothing whatsoever to do with the (national) budget and finances of the State. So, I informally put together a team to brainstorm and quarrel with.
“The team comprised General Chiwenga, Police Commissioner-General Chihuri, Director-General Bonyongwe, Minister Goche, Minister Mnangagwa, Cde George Charamba, Gershom Pasi, Willard Manungo, Dr Gono and, at some point, Cde Sekeramayi, I think in the initial meetings.
“I first spoke to them individually to tell them what I was thinking. I explained to them that this is the situation which I find with the coffers. It is a cause for concern and should also be a cause for concern to those who are entrusted with national security and that we should have a paradigm shift on a broad range of issues, policies.
“As you can see, these are people who can tell you that your view is rubbish and still look you in the eye. They will not pamper you. That, in fact, is what I thought I wanted at that time; people who will tell me what is at the bottom of their hearts and what comes into their mind and who will pull off gloves and who will also take any punches if I have to throw any punches. So, that is how we constituted this team, informally,” he explained. He said this team started meeting daily and some of
their sessions went well into the night.
He said as Zanu-PF, they had come to the conclusion that the MDC was not willing to join the Government and “we had decided to go it alone.”
“There was not a day — Saturdays and Sundays — that we did not meet. People would absent themselves here and there, but they would know that we were meeting.
“They would know they must catch up. What was important was that whatever we decided eventually, each of these individuals, individually and collectively, should defend the decision.”
“In other words, we were to come up with a new currency, which was to be revalued and was to run concurrently with any multi-currency that came into the system.
“We also agreed on a number of issues: the introduction of toll gates. Some of the policies that were agreed have not been implemented, unfortunately.
“The budget that I presented in 2009 should not be known for the figures, but for the paradigm shift; the change of direction. Manungo (permanent secretary, Ministry of Finance) and his group had to put in figures later on.
Asked whether he was not afraid of plunging the nation into economic problems, he said: “No, we were clear that this was the correct direction. I could not have taken that decision alone.
“That was the purpose of the team. When we had crystallised what we wanted, it was then that I was able to go to the President.
“At first, he was sceptical, but with the President, he never says, ‘No’. He will say justify it and that basically was the tall order. I would take to him what I thought was a water-tight argument and he would prick holes into it.
“Clearly, when you are changing direction, it is not an easy decision and I understand why the President would insist and ask so many questions for me to justify. But at the end of the day I was happy to get his ‘okay’”.