THESE are frantic times for Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa.
Candid Comment with Kudzai Kuwaza
As he goes from pillar to post in search of funding to breathe life into a deteriorating economy, he told delegates at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe winter school in Victoria Falls last week that the economy was giving him sleepless nights.
He appealed to captains of industry to help him with proposals to turn around the moribund economy.
Chinamasa has engaged in constructive discussions with various financial institutions including the Bretton Woods institution, the International Monetary Fund.
This comes as he has been told in no uncertain terms by President Robert Mugabe that he either raises money or is sacked.
During his 90th birthday interview with the state broadcaster, Mugabe said Chinamasa must raise money to pay civil servants a poverty datum line-linked salary.
“And so we must have normal salaries … Yes,we cannot have them from day one, but we must have them on paper for a start and work towards their being fulfilled in practice. And that Chinamasa is doing. At first he said we could not do it and I said well if you can’t do it tell me, I will get someone to do it.”
Mugabe was not done. Last Saturday when he launched the US$3 million Capacity Development Programme jointly sponsored by Unicef and government, he took a swipe at Chinamasa.
“When I said we should give US$600 000 to this programme, I saw Chinamasa looking down, but he could not say no, otherwise he would lose his job,” Mugabe said.
Ironically, it is Mugabe’s rhetoric that threatens Chinamasa’s efforts to raise the funding he demands. He recently told Zanu PF supporters at Chipfundi Farm in Mhangura during the launch of the A1 (small-scale commercial farm) permits that the remaining whites should not be allowed to own land in Zimbabwe.
Several disruptive and occasionally violent farm invasions have been reported in the media since then.
These utterances threaten to undo much of Chinamasa’s work searching for much-needed funding. How does he engage and encourage investors when his boss is talking about kicking out all whites remaining on farms?
Chinamasa has been forced to give frequent assurances that the Zimbabwe dollar will not return in the foreseeable future.
The continued fretting over the return of the local currency can be attributed to remarks by Mugabe when he launched his party’s manifesto ahead of last year’s general elections.
“We will get to a point that we shall say no, we need to get back our Zimbabwean dollar,” Mugabe said. This stark warning by Mugabe will ensure we have not heard the last assurance from the Finance minister on the issue of the Zimdollar.