The Sunday Mail
I have always had to worry about a macroeconomic environment that is hostile to business.
To succeed in business, every day I have had to deal with corruption, high taxation, hostile regulators, political interference, unstable currencies in oversupply, short supply of strong currency to match productivity, and an increase in moral turpitude evident through the loss of the values of hard work, honesty and integrity.
The list is long.
Having served on the board of the National Empowerment Corporation in my 20s – alongside fine guys like James Mushore, Godfrey Gomwe, Freeman Kembo, the late Mario dos Remedios, Greg Brackenridge, Rachel Kupara, and Shingi Mutasa, to name a few — I had the privilege of gaining some knowledge of HE President ED Mnangagwa.
He was a listening chairman of the indigenisation committee that we reported to.
He was decisive, fair and balanced. He always had an air of authority around him. But not once did he seek to re-enforce it by raising his voice or showing emotions, even when you seemed to have crossed him.
I remember him calling me “impervious to reason” when I raised the issue of the name of the company on whose board we served as I feared the public would confuse it with Mutumwa Mawere’s Empowerment Corporation.
I was responsible for crafting the deed of trust.
I was then amazed when he told the chairman that he agreed with the concern I had raised! With all that power he wielded, he could still make a concession!
When I was handling Strive Masiyiwa’s case, we needed to bring Wim Trengove, SC into Zimbabwe as counsel.
The law required us to get ministerial consent before securing the certificate of exemption from the Council of Legal Education, then chaired by the late Justice DB Robinson.
We expected the President, who was then Minister of Justice, to turn down our application.
We secured an appointment with him through the former Justice Secretary, Yunis Omerjee. I attended the meeting with my partner then at Kantor & Immerman, Beatrice Mtetwa.
The then minister read our application, commented that Strive was entitled to the best legal representation he could get, and signed the certificate. Sounds unbelievable! But it happened.
I later had two encounters with him when he was Speaker of Parliament.
The late Vice-President Joseph Msika had referred me to him after the late General Mujuru, through his wife and some rogue elements, had taken my farms and given them to his followers.
A friend, Chester Mhende, accompanied me to meet him.
In the short meeting we had, he was emphatic that he did not support the violent land seizures and the criminal activities that were being conducted in the guise of land reform.
However, he advised that he could not assist me at the time and advised that I move my assets out and secure my safety and that of my family.
At the time, I was trying to buy Prime Bank. He encouraged me and indicated he could recommend if I needed a recommendation on the issuance of a banking licence.
My encounters with the President gave me the impression of a man who would respect the rule of law, the rights of others and would be very decisive on whatever course he would choose.
His new Cabinet has given me hope.
I certainly think I will have less to worry about on the management of the risks arising from the environment.
When I woke up this morning, I said, yes, the bond note must go. But the bond notes are the smallest part of our bad currencies.
There are electronic money balances that had taken the place of our US dollars! What should happen to those balances?
If they are to be converted back into US dollars, where will the real money underlying or supporting those balances come from? How much are those balances? Will Government borrow to support those balances? Who will lend those billions in real dollars?
Seeing we do not produce enough currency to meet our import demand, let alone to fund local productivity, how long will those borrowed billions last before we are plunged into another liquidity crisis and the consequent deflation?
If the introduction of a local currency to cater for local productivity is imminent, what measures will be put in place to enhance our confidence in such a currency?
The standards expected by our people are high.
Having experienced the US dollar and the purchasing power it gives us across the borders of the country, is it possible for us to have good money which is not the US dollar?
Whatever the case is, I believe Dr Mthuli Ncube is the best person to have to deal with these intricate issues.
Tawanda Nyambirai is a Zimbabwean businessman and lawyer. He wrote this article for The Sunday Mail