via Chinamasa faces axe March 15, 2014 in NewsDay
FINANCE minister Patrick Chinamasa’s political life is reportedly on the line following allegations that some Zanu PF hawks have launched a campaign to have him stripped of his Cabinet post, citing his “clueless” economic turnaround strategies and failure to mobilise local resources to improve the welfare of the country’s restive civil servants,among other issues.
Zanu PF insiders told NewsDay this week that Chinamasa was likely to be axed in a mini-Cabinet reshuffle set to be announced by President Robert Mugabe soon.
Since his appointment as Finance minister last September, Chinamasa has come under a barrage of criticism from in and outside government circles because of his alleged unsound economic policies.
The critics, who were advocating the reintroduction of the Zimbabwe dollar, are reportedly pushing for former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono to take over the Finance portfolio.
Gono was last year catapulted to fill the late Kumbirai Kangai’s Senate post in Manicaland province ahead of heir apparent Shadreck Chipanga — ostensibly to prepare him for appointment into the Cabinet.
A personal banker to Mugabe for many years, Gono is believed to be the President’s favourite.
A few weeks ago, Mugabe told Chinamasa to find cash for improved salaries for civil servants or quit.
“At first, he (Chinamasa) said we could not do it and I said: ‘Well, if you can’t do it, tell me (and) I will get someone to do it.’ That is why he announced that salaries will be above . . . the poverty datum line,” Mugabe said.
Government has pledged to review civil servants’ salaries before mid-year.
In an unprecedented development, The Herald on Monday published a scathing article by a columnist who writes under the pen name Amai Jukwa which also strongly hinted on Chinamasa’s looming fall.
Part of the article read: “Our policymakers are displaying a desperate lack of imagination and have, in cowardly fashion, discounted viable possibilities in appeasement to a noisy, but largely ignorant media.
“The problem is both Chinamasa and the central bank have taken the unhelpfully orthodox view that the solution to our problems can only come from an external injection of funding.
“This is quite simply not true. Government has the capacity to inject billions of dollars of liquidity into the economy within a matter of months using nothing more than the resources we have in the country. There is precedence to this effect. The fact that they are not exploiting these avenues does not speak to impossibility, but incompetence.”
Zimbabwe recently extended its multi-currency regime to include the Australian dollar, Chinese yuan, Indian rupee and Japanese yen.
However, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services deputy minister Supa Mandiwanzira dismissed Amai Jukwa’s claims, saying government policies were spelt out by ministers and not newspaper columnists.
According to Zanu PF sources, the Cabinet purge is also likely to affect Energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire, Public Service minister Nicholas Goche and several ministers believed to be linked to the “Salarygate” scandal.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Chinamasa said he was in a meeting and promised to call back later.
The matter has received mixed views among political parties and analysts.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said: “That is not true. I do not know anything about that as matters of the Cabinet are handled at the President’s Office. We have results-based performance schedules for Cabinet ministers and these reside in the President’s Office. So, it is not for us as a party to discuss.
“But if there is information like that, I suspect there is an element of divide and rule by our enemies who want to destroy the party.”
But his MDC-T counterpart Douglas Mwonzora said: “Blaming Chinamasa only is unfair. Zanu PF has failed and should resign as a bloc. The reason why the economy is not performing is because of bad Zanu PF policies, massive corruption by Zanu PF officials and opaqueness surrounding the diamond industry.”
Analyst Alexander Rusero said axing Chinamasa would be like shooting the messenger.
“Zanu PF should put mechanisms that lure investment, not when everyone is a vendor. It is a shame to Zanu PF’s electoral victory. Firing him will be face powder window-dressing. It will not change anything. Zanu PF is clueless,” Rusero said.
He accused Zanu PF of hypocrisy as the things that they were accusing former MDC-T Finance minister Tendai Biti of were the same issues that were manifesting.
He said Biti at least managed to review civil servants’ salaries from $100 at the inception of the unity government in 2009 to about $400 a month in 2013, when the coalition government’s term ended.