President Emmerson Mnangagwa today appointed former banker Mthuli Ncube as Finance Minister and kept Winston Chitando in charge of mining, placing two technocrats at the helm of plans to rescue the country’s battered economy.
The 75-year-old leader is under pressure to rebuild an economy hit by lack of foreign investment, unemployment above 80 percent and acute dollar shortages that have hobbled some imports.
Mnangagwa won a disputed vote on July 30, the first election in the southern African nation since Robert Mugabe was removed by the army last November after nearly four decades in power.
In appointing Ncube, Mnangagwa wants to show the international community that he is giving priority to the economy and moving away from the Mugabe years where important cabinet posts were given on patronage lines.
“It sounds very encouraging especially on the choice of Finance Minister. That’s a very good foundation for the country’s economic recovery prospects,” said John Robertson, a Harare-based independent economist.
“I hope the President will permit those ministers to exercise their skills without interference.”
Ncube, 55, is a former chief economist and vice president at the African Development Bank (AfDB) and was also a lecturer in finance at the London School of Economics and Wits Business School in South Africa.
He founded Zimbabwe’s Barbican Bank and asset management company, which were, however, put into administration by the central bank in 2005 after only two years of operations. The bank’s licence was later cancelled.
Ncube will be tasked with crafting an economic recovery programme as well as coming up with strategy to pay off Zimbabwe’s $1.8 billion arrears to the World Bank and AfDB.
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