Mthuli has turned the corner but in the wrong direction: Analysts

Albert Chavhunduka.

The year started on a bad note, with teachers refusing to go back to class as schools opened for the first term of 2022 on February 7, due to incapacitation.

This forced government to stretch its muscles and take drastic measures against absentee teachers who were initially ‘suspended’ for 3 months only for the decision to be reversed by the High Court.

Teachers have been demanding a monthly salary of US$540  that they earned before 2018.

Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube strongly believes that the tough choices government has made will bring good returns for the year 2022 and they are doing enough to break the country’s ‘economic fever’.

He has boasted that the country’s economy is on the right trajectory and at one time last year, he even said that it was going to emerge stronger than other countries in the SADC region.

The more the finance minister makes these claims, the more the reality on the ground proves him wrong and it is evident that the economy is running amok.

For quite some time, Professor Ncube has been completely detached from reality or perhaps he just chose to be ignorant, to the fact that despite his claims of economic ‘surplus’ half of the population in our country is wallowing in poverty and the economy continues to plummet.

In his recent article ‘We have turned the corner‘ published in the Herald, there is subtle admission of guilt by the minister that in spite of ‘tough choices’ made by government so far, to put us on the correct path to economic sanity, that mission is proving to be a tall order.

In his own words, the minister admits again that the road ahead is rocky and urges the people to hold on tight.

“And while the road ahead will be difficult,and require the continued resilience of our people, i am eager to report that our actions are beginning to work,” says Professor Ncube.

However, analyst who spoke to Reveal and Mail said the finance minister’s promises are full of hotair and it is not doing the country any good as the economy continues to spiral down.

Economic analyst David Coltart said finance minister Professor Ncube has been promising economic change for a long time and it is nowhere near coming.

“This is admission that people are suffering but it is couched in the language that the suffering is about to end. This is going to be even harder to attain today after their Russian friends invaded Ukraine as that alone is going to have an inflationery effect on everyone given the oul prices will rise dramatically,” said Coltart.

Asked on whether the ‘tough choices’ Minister Ncube said government is taking to revamp the economy will do any good, Coltart said it is the lack of sound economic policies that is lacking.

“It isn’t the tough ‘choices’ which are causing the economy to sink it is their poor economic policies and refusal to stop corruption in the highest echelons which is causing the economy to sink. If they restored the rule of law and tackled corruption the “choices” wouldnt be as hard to make or as difficult to implement because there would be more disposal money in treasury,” he said.

Mr Coltart further weighed in and said that the selective access to foreign currency in the country to benefit a few is one of the reasons why the country will not dollarise early.

“We should already have dollarised but this wont happen because of the massive amounts of money the corrupt elite are making through preferential access to forex through systems such as the Auction. For so long as they are making prodigious amounts of money through these policies they will continue even though the logical and rational thing would be to dollarise,” he said.

Another analyst, Kudakwashe Munemo said Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube is finally acknowledging that his policies are retrogressive.

“The minister has clearly admitted that economic growth expressed in quantitative terms without translating to improved livelihoods for individuals and families is retrogressive. For someone who has been holding the office for more than 3 years, he cannot tell citizens that the work is just beginning, by now, the expectation, if anything,  is for the fruits to be felt by each and everyone and not the few elites,” said Munemo.

He further went on to say that it’s hard for the minister to openly admit that his policies are not working particularly when it comes to dumping the local currency.

“Ufortunately, the Minister will not openly admit the failure of the bond-cum-Zimbabwean dollar currency, especially due to political pressure from the ruling party, Zanu Pf.They will only accept by their actions, such as charging passport application fees, university fees and levies, vehicle registration and other items in foreign currency. Without trust, a product of transparency and accountability, backed by a functional industry with the capacity to export, nothing will generate demand for the Zimbabwean dollar, except for arbitrage purposes,” he said.

He added that Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube has succumbed to economic pressure which has cornered him into becoming more of a politician than a professional appointee, who is giving citizens home by word of mouth yet the reality on the ground indicates an ailing economy.

Rejoice Ngwenya, said finance minister Professor Mthuli should instead weigh his achievements based on the living standards of ordinary citizens.

“He is telling us what he thinks we should see and appreciate that is, budget surplus, low inflationary metrics, infrastructure development. Okay, if his concern is ‘good standard of living for citizens’, why is he not commenting about Consumer Basket, PDL, teachers’ salaries, prices pegged on USD black market? He is selling an illusion,” said Ngwenya.

Ngwenya further said that the distortions between the black market and interbank rates are only benefitting a few as well as fueling corruption.

“But I get the impression that his optimism is misplaced. The upward or positives macro-economic metrics he refers to are false. Zimbabweans are experiencing the lowest standards of living ever because our pricing us indexed against black, not bank auction market rates. Public expenditure is not creating employment, only corruptly rewarding cronies,” he said.

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