IN implementing his plan to privatise Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s gold buying subsidiary, Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR), Finance minister Mthuli Ncube must be careful not to repeat the mistakes that divided the country.
For decades, Zimbabwe has cried out for transparency in the management of public resources, but the virtue has remained elusive.
While pleas for clarity in several suspicious deals have been ignored, Zimbabweans have been categorical in condemning the transfer of public assets to few politically-connected individuals.
The transaction leading to the formation of Kuvimba, a mining house, remains shadowy, and Zimbabweans have called for full disclosure around the involvement of oil tycoon, Kudakwashe Tagwirei.
While public discontent is blazing, with little or no clarification, Ncube announced on Thursday last week that he will be accelerating the privatisation of FPR.
We have no problem with this.
Privatisation has proven to be the most efficient model.
The fact that Ncube and his team have decided to speed up the privatisation of this firm means he is determined to free Zimbabwe from the burden of inefficiencies at FPR that have resulted in over US$1,5 billion worth of gold finding its way into the black market annually.
Under the strategy, 60% of FPR would be transferred to 10 privately-owned big firms which will call the shots after the deal.
But we are worried that Ncube kept his cards close to his chest in terms of disclosing these firms.
Yet, from the strategy that he announced, it looks like the same big guys, who have benefited from previous deals, will benefit again.
We don’t think it is such a mammoth task for Ncube to disclose the names of participating firms.
It would be fair for Zimbabweans to know who is gaining a foothold into their asset, at what costs and why?
The last thing the people of Zimbabwe want is being taken by surprise that Kuvimba, for instance, will take control of FPR, before its ownership is fully disclosed.
Zimbabweans deserve to know how they will benefit from the transfer of their stake into private hands.
They also deserve to know what criteria was used to hand over the asset to private organisations.
Unless this information is disclosed, deals involving the current government and its hangers on will remain controversial.
It will not be surprising that in future such deals would be reversed, and should this happen, the country would be blasted for policy inconsistency.
Government must, for once, learn to conduct its business in a transparent manner.