A little respect from Finance minister would do

Prof Mthuli Ncube . Chief Economist and Vice President of African Development Bank @ Michaelangelo Hotel Jhb . 10 July 2014 . Pics Russell Roberts

PARDON us, but sometimes we get the feeling that Finance minister Mthuli Ncube appears to have very little regard or respect for anyone, except himself, on matters of national interest.

More than a fortnight ago, Senate asked Ncube to visit the august House to explain the country’s worsening currency crisis, the debilitating state of the economy and the confusing prickly gold coins issue that has courted controversy among citizens.

We would have thought that if the esteemed minister was busy at the time of the request for him to shed light on these thorny issues, he would have excused himself there and then, than wait and do so ages later.

For him to simply go mum and take a sweet fortnight to respond to the august House’s demand makes us feel that this man has little to no veneration for our lawmakers as well as the whole nation represented by the senators.

His excuse for not turning up in the Senate is that he was currently seized with crafting the mid-term budget review which he wants to present in Parliament this week.

“The minister fully appreciates the importance, urgency and the need to address the issues raised by the Senate. Please accept, Madam President, the assurances of highest consideration by the minister’s office,” partly read a letter from Ncube’s ministry, ostensibly appologising for not being able to appear before Parliament.

If this apology had come a day or two after the Senate’s request, we should not be yapping about this issue at all. But it is this apparent sluggishness, bordering on haughtiness, surrounding Ncube’s way of doing things that has angered some us.

This is the very same minister who took a good sweet two years to apologise for overspending in 2019 and 2020. Instead of coming to Parliament to seek condonation within 60 days of overspending each of the two national budgets, Ncube’s decision to do so two years later is as strange as it is unacceptable.

And to then imagine that the overspending was a heart-stopping US$11,3 billion, makes us think that Ncude must be taking citizens for some bloody fools.

Commenting on this issue, legal and parliamentary think-tank Veitas rightly pointed out thus: “It is to be hoped that when the minister finally brings the two Bills (on overspending in 2019 and 2020) to Parliament, members will question him closely to find out the answers.  They and the general public have a right to know. In the interest of transparency, Parliament should not pass these condonation Bills without a full explanation of where the money went.”

To avoid these brickbats, Ncube should judiciously and quickly act on any serious matters to do with public interest. His unexplained shilly-shallying over public requests for immediate answers to matters that affect citizens will only serve to attract the public’s full wrath.

We sincerely hope that when he appears before Parliament on Thursday, the man will have very good and plausible answers regarding the state of the economy, the fate of our beloved Zimbabwe dollar and the role of the much-touted gold coins, expected to be launched today, in this whole messy economic jigsaw puzzle.