GOVERNMENT this week fired economist Gift Mugano from the ZimTrade board for alleged misconduct.

In a statement, Foreign Affairs and International Trade permanent secretary James Manzou said the termination of Mugano’s board membership was with immediate effect.

“I wish to inform you that the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Frederick Shava) has terminated your membership from the ZimTrade Board in terms of Article 10 of the Constitution of ZimTrade as read with section 16 of the Public Entities and Corporate Governance Act [Chapter 10:31],” Manzou wrote in a letter addressed to Mugano, dated October 4.

Section 16(1)(a) of the Public Entities and Corporate Governance Act [Chapter 10:31] states that one ceases to be a board member of a State-owned entity if he or she has been found guilty of conduct inconsistent with his or her membership of the entity.

This is the second government entity that the economics professor has been hounded out from.

In 2020, Mugano resigned as acting chairman of the Ziscosteel board arguing that his public comments on government policies were viewed to be in “direct conflict with his role as a board member of a State enterprise”.

Keep Reading

That the economics professor would be fired from the ZimTrade board was inevitable after he declared that he was voting for Citizens Coalition for Change president Nelson Chamisa in the run-up to the August 23 and 24 harmonised elections.

Mugano has been a thorn in the flesh of the government with his incisive commentaries on the economy.

He was also hounded out of a local university which felt he was too critical of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.

Since then, lecturers at universities have gone mute, avoiding commenting on economic and political developments.

We need to revisit the appointments into the boards of State-owned enterprises. Those appointed are headhunted due to their expertise in the field and not on political affiliation.

A strong curriculum vitae should be a reference point and not one’s political inclination. If the latter is holding sway, then cry beloved Zimbabwe.

There is no doubt that if you pick someone from the private sector, he or she will bring a fresh thinking which is alien to several State-owned enterprises where the principals run things remotely.

The “victims” of Mugano’s criticism, the Finance and Economic Development ministry and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, have taken it in their strides and incorporated some of his policy advice in their policy measures.

Constructive criticism nourishes those in leadership.

One can choose to take the advice as it is, modify it or completely reject it.

As Mugano said on Wednesday, you cannot take out the best brains “because you don’t agree on political views”. He could be right after recently getting a post of director at Durban University of Technology’s Centre for African Governance and Development.

The net effect of the government’s stance against constructive criticism is that it will struggle to attract deserving talent to sit on its boards.

It will only attract a band of cheerleaders who will not add any value other than their pastime: cheerleading.