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So our Finance Minister ranks in top 5 in Africa while RBZ governor ranks in bottom 5, what’s up with that?

Minister of finance Mthuli Ncube, budget surplus 2021 Q1, fake email US$500K entrepreneurs

I must have been out of the loop all these years cause I had no idea ranking finance ministers and central bank bosses was a thing. It does make a lot of sense though. Why do we care so much about who ranks highest when it comes to hitting balls with rackets (Novak) than who shapes entire nations’ futures.

I’m all for it. Also, thinking out loud here, could publicising such rankings have the effect of motivating some heads to try to get the ranking. Probably not cause I don’t believe any head would just be coasting, only to be awakened by ego. 

I think most governors and ministers are doing the best they can, working with the skill set they have, within the political situation of their countries. There’s only so much a finance minister in Iraq or Somalia, two of the most corrupt countries, can do to improve his country’s situation. 

And that is assuming he is not corrupt himself, cause if he has a different agenda or toes some party’s line, then the chance to win the Ballon D’Or of central bank governors means little to him. His policies and actions would be decided for him in that case.

So the rankings only serve as clubs with which to clobber those who rank poorly (Mangudya) and soft gloves with which to pat the backs of those who rank high (Ncube.) Not really a productive use of anyone’s time in my opinion. 

I know. The irony is not lost on me as I devote time to discuss the rankings.

Minister Mthuli ranks high on some list

The Senegalese Financial Afrik ranked our own Mthuli Ncube in the top five best finance ministers in Africa. I’m not going to sit here and pretend I knew about these guys before this ranking came to light. So, the top five ranking is something, I guess. 

I wouldn’t say we have a particularly cordial relationship with the Senegalese for them to stroke our minister’s ego. So they must legitimately believe he ranks that high.

I also would not think Mthuli made some friends during his time with the African Development Bank (AfDB) that are propping up their colleague. Yes, Mthuli worked for the AfDB, which is headquartered in West Africa, and operates across the continent. I imagine the economists who made the ranking knew about him before he took over the Zim finance job. 

So, Mthuli probably has a higher profile than his fellow African finance ministers. This could have helped in his case. 

Can we trust the objectivity of the rankers?

While I admit I don’t know what Finance Afrik stands for, I would imagine they would not want to tarnish their reputation by publishing a dubious ranking. So, whatever they knew or didn’t know about Mthuli, or whatever relationship they may or may not have with him could only count so much in their decision to rank him that high.

So let’s work with the (probably correct) assumption that the ranking was objectively considered. Our Mthuli is actually the one getting a deduction of marks for sharing this flattering ranking himself. That’s what burner accounts or interns are for, to toot your own horn with no one the wiser. I wonder though, did Mangudya post his worst ranked governor dishonour? Would Mthuli have shared this list if he ranked as poorly as Mangudya?

It’s not a good look to sound your own trumpet in my opinion. However, for motivation and self esteem after a few years in a challenging Zimbabwe, I’d imagine you kind of need to hear the trumpet, even if just once. Get someone we can’t connect to you to sound it for you in that case. 

Finance Afrik keeps its marks though. Although I feel it’s important to note that different rankers come up with different lists. Finance Afrik’s list is by no means definitive. TheBanker’s list for example has the Kenyan minister at #1 and yet he didn’t crack the top five of Finance Afrik’s. Rankings are opinions and so they can differ.

That’s important to establish because, let’s be honest, a ranking only carries weight depending on the reputation, knowledge of subject matter and objectivity/independence of the one making the ranking. 

So what did these guys we know nothing about look at to come up with their flattering ranking.

What made Mthuli look good?

In 2021, the Zim economy grew by 5.1% according to the World Bank, and 7.8% according to the Zim govt. That was after 2 years of contractions. All that despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.

As we discussed recently, he managed to help rein in the inflation rate which had threatened to spiral out of control in 2020. We closed out 2020 with an annual inflation rate of 349% and ended 2021 at 61%.

Industry capacity utilisation grew from 47.6% in 2020 to 58% in Q3 2021 and is projected to be over 60% for December. (Capacity utilisation represents the production capabilities that are being utilised by the industry.) 

Hate or love Mthuli’s tax regime, the extra revenue he collects, especially from the 2% IMTT, helps the govt’s books look good. Mthuli loves reminding us that govt deficits have significantly decreased under his leadership. It’s true. We have posted surpluses in some quarters and that reflects well on him. 

The only knock on this otherwise good trend is that it can feel like we post surpluses at the expense of a reasonable wage for civil servants. On the flip side, even Parliament was complaining about not getting all the funds they had been allocated in the budget. So, Mthuli really guards the state coffers’ keys jealously and that’s beautiful. Hence the recognition.

It goes on and on when we look at Keynesian economics metrics that are popular with many economists. Mthuli’s work looks good under this light. You can’t take that away from him.

So, is our weakness in monetary policy?

With Mthuli coming out with flying colours and his partner in crime, Mangudya, flunking the test, what can we conclude? Is it that on the fiscal side of things, Zimbabwe is being led competently and is being let down by a weak monetary policy. 

Mangudya’s RBZ is in charge of monetary policy formulation and implementation. However, in practice I’m not sure how much oversight the finance minister has over this function. So, is it fair for Mangudya to bear the brunt of the blame for the monetary mess? Probably but there should be some give and take between the two offices. 

I see that even Mthuli has to make some compromises just so we can move forward. I believe he’s not okay with some of the govt spending but cannot do anything about it. How hard is the pressure on Mangudya to act out impulsively like he did with EcoCash? There is probably more hidden pressure to act a certain way on him than there is on Mthuli. It doesn’t excuse him though.

So while I don’t really place significance on awards like the ones we discussed (at least until I win one of course), I also believe that they give us a semi-objective look into how others evaluate our people. So, we’ll make it an annual tradition.

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16 thoughts on “So our Finance Minister ranks in top 5 in Africa while RBZ governor ranks in bottom 5, what’s up with that?

    1. Both guys are ‘doctors’ so yeah, I agree we leaned on literacy rates thinking it made us superior to other Africans. Our education has not done us any good, we’ve only become a skilled labour feeder nation for organised economies.

    1. Not when some of us actively work against us for their own good. If indeed we have great minds, we are wasting them.

  1. Me in my death bed because of ZANU PF

    Me: It was a good life, wasn’t it? THE BEST!😔😭😭

    1. Zimbos understand fully what ‘life is only as good as you make it’ means. Gotta make the lemonade so you can truthfully say ‘It was a good life.’ If you wait for everything to be fixed, disappointment will lead you to an early grave.

  2. Wondering what criteria are used when determining those rankings! As the saying goes “There are three types of lies: Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics” Which one(s) apply here?

    1. There are a lot of criteria that can make 2021 look good for Mthuli. I think 2019 and 2020 were a mess so we were due a mini rebound. So the ground we gained back in 2021 wins him the accolades.

      To me it’s akin to 2 guys who have $100 each.
      Day 1: First guy makes 5 more whilst 2nd guy loses 20.
      Day 2: First guy makes 3 more (total $108 now) whilst 2nd guy loses another 25, now left with $55.
      Day 3: First guy makes 2 more (total now $110), whilst 2nd guy makes $2, total now $57.

      If we are giving awards for Day 3, 2nd guy had the better day. He grew his tally by 3.6% (2/55). The first guy only grew his by 1.9% (2/108). Same applies to growing Zim’s GDP by 5.1%. We had a lower GDP to work with because we had shrunk 2 years in a row. So, percentage growth will good for us.

      Same with inflation falling from about 350% to end 2020 to 61% at the end of 2021. It’s a huge correction but only because we had fallen too far down in the first place.

  3. Mthuli and Mangudya’s salaries should be frozen for a year. Those guys don’t know their job descriptions at all.

  4. Ive come to realize Techzim is seriously lacking in financial news journalists and this article proves me just right. it is one thing to wake up one day and question a ranking without doing your own thorough research, which is clearly lacking from what u expose in this article, You amateurishly allude this ranking to 2021 and yet you overlook that the successes of 2021 came about because of policies which had been set in 3 years prior to that. Look at Mthulis policies look at the TSP, look at the successes of the TSP – Macro Economic Stability, Narrowing of BOP defecit, Exchange rate stability (in comparison to what it was), Budget surpluses, tight notch on government spending, the list goes on but you conveniently leave all that out maybe because you are not aware of what the TSP entailed in the first place or have a smear agenda.

    You don’t even mention anything on NDS1 and what that has achieved thus far, maybe because you don’t even know about it to begin with.

    If questioning the ranking isnt it logical to review his policies and policy implementations?? However in this article you reduce it to mere feelings and no facts.

    Firstly you assume that the ranking came about because these people knew about Mthuli because of his stint at the AFDB honestly what type of journalism is this? you throw in something like that which is not backed with fact only showing what i said before that you clearly have an issue with the guy.

    You ask if we can trust objectivity of the rankers, yet the same can be asked about your article. This is an organization you admit YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT, and yet you have the nerve to question their objectivity??? Am i the only one who sees something wrong with this? Why not do your research about them first before rushing to dish out a highly opinionated article, make a researched article based on fact, after all isnt that what journalism is all about??

    You make a point on whether Mthuli would have shared the results if he had ranked lowly? thats the same as asking someone if they are proud of bad results! This question is in bad taste and only brings out your Bias.

    Why did your article choose to ignore the following?

    Efficient appropriation of Devlotion funds
    The Effect of these funds in the smaller communities
    The revolving fund allocated to Banks for Manufactures
    The access of credit facilities availed to manufacturing sector for retooling and production
    The timely allocation of financial resources to the GMB for grain purchases leading to the bumper harvest

    the list goes on but you would only know about this had you objectively researched before publishing such mediocrity.

    The author is clearly no Economist because his bases of argument and criteria are based on everything else but economics.

    PS: I am not into politics just a very objective economist

    Techzim we expect better from you!

    1. I agree with you totally, I read an article titled ‘Govt doubling down on what many believe caused the Zimdollar to collapse last year’ I think it was authored by the same guy and his analogy of the ‘Crowding Out’ effect was quite dubious and erroneous and showed a serious lack of understanding of the concept, Techzim should keep it tech & for financial news i look to Equity Axis, they have professionals there.

  5. The only reason inflation slowed down in 2020 was because of Covid-19 and the government was forced to go back to using USD. It takes a pandemic for the Minister to realize that the Zim dollar was not going to work.
    Mthuli number last, best thing he can do for us is to step down.

    1. inflation started slowing down end of 2019 before COVID and not 2020 get your facts right, in 2020 year on year inflation actually shot up

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