BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
GOVERNMENT’s name and shame operation targeting companies and individuals accused of fuelling the galloping foreign currency parallel exchange rate has triggered fierce fights within Zanu PF, with some party members claiming the exercise was motivated by political malice than a genuine concern to stabilise the economy.
The Finance ministry recently embarked on a naming and shaming operation against individuals and companies accused of manipulating the official foreign exchange rate and misusing foreign currency allocated by government.
Last week, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) named and shamed 30 individuals alleged to be abusing mobile phone services and social media to facilitate forex transactions. The central bank added 47 more names to the list early this week.
But some Zanu PF members claimed that the naming and shaming campaign was politically motivated, targeting a certain faction within the ruling party.
Several Zanu PF bigwigs, including former ministers Priscah Mupfumira and Ignatius Chombo, were arrested on graft charges following a “name-and-shame” operation led by the party youth league in 2019, but the youth leaders who initiated the campaign were either fired from the party or demoted.
Yesterday, several party members in a WhatsApp group, The Patriots, questioned the logic behind merely naming and shaming the offenders without arresting them.
One member questioned why the party was now embarking on naming and shaming yet it fired party youths, Godfrey Tsenengamu and Lewis Matutu, for doing the same.
Another member accused the ruling party of behaving like the old dispensation of the late former President Robert Mugabe.
“Naming and shaming people implicated in criminal activities, and no arrests, what a circus,” one member said.
Another member said: “Naming and shaming small people, leaving out big names,” to which another one responded saying: “Big names, you will be fired, as (happened to Lewis) Matutu.”
Zanu PF member and former Finance deputy minister Terrence Mukupe yesterday said the Finance ministry’s resolution to officially peg the foreign exchange rate had failed to tame the exchange rate madness.
“I’m just amused with all the naming and shaming culture that started with the former youth leaders and now RBZ has also jumped into the same band wagon. Issues to do with the economy require sober minds and not politics of playing to the gallery. My inbox is blowing up with fellow finance people and economists who can’t understand why we are not just doing three very simple things.”
He said the Finance ministry was failing to address the real problems that the economy was facing and focusing on the exchange rate which was further contributing to the galloping parallel market rate.
Said Mukupe: “The official 1:88 rate is a form of daylight thievery. Every business that is importing using this rate is simply stealing from the people because we never see them selling the commodities they produce at this rate. We need to stop commanding the rate because it’s clearly imploding.
“Outside of sanctions, our real problem is that of jobs and productivity. Focus should be on the things that bring income to this great nation — that is mining, agriculture and industry.”
He added: “The Ministry of Industry is asleep and not helping the great vision of my President ED. I remember very well at the steps of the Zanu PF headquarters the day His Excellency (Mnangagwa) came back, standing next to him, the greatest applause he got was when he said focus will be on jobs, jobs, jobs!!!
“The Ministry of Industry is not doing anything to assist the retooling of our manufacturing sector. If we focus too much on infrastructure, which does not enhance our income-earning capacity like Sekuru Prof (the late former Malawi President Bingu wa) Mutharika and Dr (former Zambian President Edgar) Lungu, the economy will implode!!!”
Mukupe, who is a banker, concluded: “So with the naming and shaming let’s see … my financial advice to those in business … borrow as much as you can in Zimdollar, park your cash on the stock market … and oh yes, go to the official RBZ market and get as much USD as you can … cause now with the stance taken by the monetary authorities, the zero risk way to make money is by taking money from government via the RBZ auction!!!”
But Zanu PF acting spokesperson Michael Bimha defended Ncube’s policies on controlling inflation and other economic crimes saying he was mandated to act in whatever way within the law to stabilise the economy.
He denied claims that Ncube’s economic policies were politically-motivated.
“The ruling party is not above the law and it cannot be an issue of concern if a party member is named for being involved in economic shenanigans,” Bimha said.
“As long as the minister is acting within the law, there is no politics at play on what he would be doing. Whether it is a Zanu PF or MDC member that has been caught in the web, it does not matter as long as justice is taking its course.”
- Follow Miriam on Twitter @FloMangwaya