The media has started throwing names around for the post of Minister of Finance.
Financial Sector Spotlight with Omen Muza
Amongst the names that are being bandied around is that of current Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono.
This piece focuses on why I think he fits the bill ahead of the other contenders.
While the President must appoint cabinet ministers and deputy ministers from the pool of senators and members of the lower house, up to five of them can be chosen from outside Parliament for their professional skills and competence.
With his term of office at the RBZ expiring in a little over three months, I think Gono can fancy his chances.
This piece will probably draw more brickbats than bouquets for me, but I am unapologetic because I offer it in good faith, at no one’s instigation and in the honest context of freedom of speech and opinion in a development discourse.
My money would be on Biti continuing at the Ministry of Finance because I hear that despite intense public posturing about his “intransigence”, he allegedly commands the respect of President Mugabe; however his continued stay at New Complex Building is an unlikely prospect because of his MDC-T party’s position on engagement in institutions of government. But never say never.
While he is viewed as pro-Zanu PF — which is probably his first plus for a job in a Zanu-PF government — Gideon Gono has shown that he can adapt and do what is necessary to work with people of different political persuasions (such as Biti) in order to chart the way forward, becoming somewhat of a reformist in the process.
Gono is also thought to enjoy the generous support and confidence of President Mugabe, for whom the media often says he is a personal banker. While he manifestly has his weaknesses, to me Gono appears to have a fairly high emotional intelligence quotient (EIQ), hence his adaptability.
What I now know for sure — which Gono has obviously learnt well — is that there are no permanent friends and enemies in politics. No permanent friends but only permanent interests.
Gono has been there and done that in the local financial sector. He has the experience of what can go wrong with an economy and has the opportunity to put it to good use.
Given the chance, his experience can now turn into wisdom as Minister of Finance. They say good decisions come from experience and experience comes from bad decisions.
In any case, Gono was once a de facto Minister of Finance during the hyper-inflationary era when he routinely performed a myriad of quasi-fiscal operations, so adjusting to the role of minister of finance would not be a particularly daunting task for him.
Continuity-wise, me thinks that he would be a good pro-banking minister of finance, grounded in substantial knowledge of the real issues in the banking sector.
No one in their right minds would be expected to immediately embark on a crusade to dismantle their legacy, so with him as Minister of Finance the banking sector can look forward to some continuity and possibly protection.
Love him, or hate him, Gono has a reputation as a hard worker whose rise from humble origins to the apex of the banking sector is a bit of a fairy tale. While some think he has misdirected himself on several occasions during parts of his governorship, he generally is known for executing his duties with copious amounts of optimism and enthusiasm. When he sets his mind to something, he usually goes the distance.
While Gono packs a powerful punch in the finance ministerial stakes, there are obvious handicaps to his prospects. Firstly, a lot of Zimbabweans do not have good memories of his stewardship of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe during the hyper-inflationary era of which he was an integral player, if not the protagonist.
Secondly, Gono is still a Specially Designated National (SDN) under sanctions imposed by Western countries and that might inhibit his work as Minister of Finance, but then again, so are the other contenders.
Despite these drawbacks, Gono can rise above the treacherous terrain created by the legacy issues of his past to become a good minister of finance for all Zimbabweans.