The Sunday Mail
Senior Business Reporter
Zimbabwe is poised for massive economic take-off following the appointment of a confidence-inspiring Cabinet and permanent secretaries, experts have said.
President Mnangagwa’s Cabinet, already dubbed a ‘Dream Team’ due to the mix of technocrats and seasoned politicians, got plaudits from across the political and economic divide.
The announcements of permanent secretaries last Wednesday underlined the new administration’s desire to break from the past and chart a new economic trajectory.
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development is now led by top bankers – Professor Mthuli Ncube (minister) and Mr George Guvamatanga (permanent secretary). Apart from their vast experience, the duo also have global connections.
The Ministry of Energy and Power Development, which is led by Dr Joram Gumbo, a fine academic and results oriented individual, has a hardworking technocrat, Engineer Gloria Magombo, as permanent secretary.
Eng Magombo has been CEO of the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) until her recent appointment.
United Kingdom-based strategic analyst Mr Hopewell Mauwa told The Sunday Mail Business last week that the appointment of Mr Guvamatanga, a former Barclays Bank Zimbabwe CEO, is crucial.
“The Ministry of Finance is at the heart of economic development. It is critical that it is manned by diverse, experienced and highly skilled talent,” said Mr Mauwa.
“Mr Guvamatanga will bring a wealth of operational knowledge of the local banking sector as well as the much needed administration skills, having been at the helm of Barclays Zimbabwe.
“Together with Minister Ncube’s international experience, there is immense opportunity for synergies of ideas. However, there should be strength in depth of talent in this important ministry. Mr Guvamatanga’s priorities should include expanding the human capital base and there has to be the right balance of talent.”
Mr Mauwa also encouraged the Ministry of Finance to consider attracting international talent to enhance capacity to innovate solutions to current economic challenges as well as to diligently negotiate complex transactions at the global stage.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Mr Sifelani Jabangwe said, “We think these are very positive steps. These are seasoned technocrats in critical positions such as the Ministry of Finance.
“The President has just strengthened that ministry by appointing astute bankers with international experience and connections.
“I feel we have got a team with the right skills and this should take the country far.”
Another economic commentator, Dr Brian Mangwiro, a director at UK-based Multi-Asset Strategies, also said, “Technical appointments from industry into Government are always encouraging, especially for Zimbabwe where the economy is in need of deep surgery.
“We hope Mr Guvamatanga will contribute significantly in improving Zimbabwe’s public finances. I was also particularly impressed and encouraged by the appointment of Professor Fanuel Tagwira as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Department.
“As far as excellence, honesty, commitment and integrity are concerned, I am yet to come across a more honourable man than Prof Tagwira. Such appointments show a steady improvement in the Government’s approach to development. The technocrats should be given the space to shine.”
The experts also lauded President Mnangagwa’s announcement that decisions taken by Cabinet will be communicated to the nation every Wednesday by the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mrs Monica Mutsvangwa, in the presence of the Chief Secretary and the implementing ministers.
President Mnangagwa said the move will help “entrench transparency, and a culture of responsiveness, as we seek to transform the quality of life of our people”.
Mr Mauwa said by opening up Cabinet decisions to the public, Government is clearly making important steps in restoring trust by engaging citizens.
He said there is need to continuously rebuild the social contract between Government and citizens, adding that such transparency has the potential to restore confidence and encourages the public to hold Government to account, based on factual substance.
“This initiative is also an important performance measurement tool as the public will now expect timely delivery of set targets. Of course, the public should also be made aware of any anticipated constraints to delivery of such targets,” said Mr Mauwa.
“Where actual performance fails to conform to expectation, the Government will have to account.
“So this effectively sets a foundation for good governance.
“In this era of social media, it is critical for Government to play a proactive role in setting their own agenda, disseminating relevant information and managing public image.
“Enhanced transparency is good, both for public discourse and investor relations. However, what is even more important is the content and consistency within those communications.
“I also believe that the communications should not be mere downloads of Cabinet discussions.
“Rather, they should be edited versions of those discussions focusing on key decisions and areas of future policy development. That is the global standard,” said Dr Mangwiro.
He also said the move is a leap forward from past administrations.
In his first Cabinet address on Monday last week, President Mnangagwa said Government has a mammoth task of leading the country’s transformation process.
Zimbabwe is working towards becoming a middle-income economy by 2030, characterised by “job-rich economic growth”.
The President said to achieve these set targets, Cabinet must speak with one voice.