Chinamasa caught between pragmatism and populism

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa is due to announce the 2017 National Budget in just over a month’s time and by now the fiscal agenda for next year should already be in the spotlight, with several public consultations planned.

Source: Chinamasa caught between pragmatism and populism – NewsDay Zimbabwe October 5, 2016

Comment: NewsDay Editor

In the wake of his failed spending cuts proposals at the mid-term budget review, Chinamasa should have started laying the groundwork for his next plan and how he intends to carry it out.

The Finance minister has twice proposed wide-ranging cuts, which have been rejected as many times and it is either he has a new plan or he intends to continue trudging on in the blind alley of cuts, hoping his colleagues will eventually give in.

Another issue that Chinamasa has to address is the repayment of arrears to international financial institutions. This seemed to be the pinnacle of his policy measures for the past year or so, but he would be the first to admit the country has seemingly hit a dead end.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have somewhat distanced themselves from a bailout to Zimbabwe and by so doing have all but told us we are on our own.

It seems Chinamasa had put all his eggs in the one basket of paying back what the country owed in the hope that cheap credit lines would be opened.

With this having flopped, Chinamasa should be in a position to tell us what next for the country and he has all his work cut out for him.

What makes Chinamasa’s position even more complicated is that he seems to know what to do and is willing to do it, but this is not something shared by his Zanu PF and government colleagues.

This has put the minister on a collision course with his colleagues a few times already in the past two years, but what is shocking is there is a dearth of policy alternatives, with others not opposed to Chinamasa on principle, but rather on expediency.

This puts him in a very awkward and unenviable position, as he starts crafting next year’s budget, where he has just two choices really — throw out pragmatism and adopt populism and damn the consequences or to continue swimming against the tide, which can come at a huge cost for him.

At times Chinamasa feels like a character from a Shakespearean tragedy — he is placed in a stressful situation and whatever decision he makes, it is likely to have grave consequences for him.


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    There is no point in any of these clowns planning next years budget, even if they knew what they were doing as total economic collapse will happen by Christmas.