Ncube pushes for new RBZ governor

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor John Mangudya presents his Monetary Policy Statement, while Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube and Permanent Secretary George Tongesayi Guvamatanga look on at the RBZ in Harare yesterday. —(Picture by Tawanda Mudimu)

FINANCE Minister Mthuli Ncube is trying to impose top economist Andrew Bvumbe (pictured) as the new Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor to replace the incumbent John Mangudya following the expiry of his employment contract with the World Bank (WB) where he worked as executive director for the Africa Group 1 Constituency (AFG1).

ANDREW KUNAMBURA

Government sources said although Ncube has had good working relations with Mangudya, he is closer to Bvumbe and likes the fact that he has been working at the WB and is connected to international financial institutions.

According to the sources, Bvumbe is supposed to return to his former position as head of the aid and debt management office at the Finance Ministry. The position is currently occupied by an official seconded to the ministry by the RBZ.

Sources said Ncube, who began courting Bvumbe soon after his appointment as Finance minister in September, is fighting to assert total control at the central bank by ensuring senior positions are occupied by people he is comfortable working with.

“Ncube has of late been in talks with Bvumbe and indicated that he would want to work with him once his contract at the WB expires. They first met on the sidelines of the United Nations general assembly meeting in New York in September. They also met in Bali, Indonesia, at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings and held further talks,” a Finance Ministry official said.

“Although there is no bad blood between the two, Ncube appears to be frustrated by Mangudya’s cautious approach to the sweeping changes he sought to introduce when he became Finance minister.”
Senior RBZ officials also told the Zimbabwe Independent that when Ncube arrived at the ministry, he wanted to quickly remove bond notes, but Mangudya, who introduced the surrogate currency in 2016, warned that doing so would be catastrophic.

Ncube’s idea of introducing a local currency was also deemed too hasty by Mangudya, who subtly warned the ambitious minister in his monetary policy statement on October 1 that doing so would be akin to “putting the cart before the horse”.

“Ncube wants to control the RBZ, that’s one area where they are having differences. Mangudya is of the idea that Ncube’s big bang approach would cause mayhem and he favours gradual change.”

Sources said Ncube and Mangudya are currently not operating on the same wavelength as the minister was making decisions without consulting the governor.

“A case in point is that of the controversial communications taskforce which Ncube established. Mangudya knew nothing about the taskforce and, when he found out, he wasn’t comfortable with it at all. Actually, some RBZ officials believe that most of the allegations levelled against directors at the bank are either half-truths or total falsehoods,” another source said.

The short-lived taskforce, chaired by controversial former Zanu PF youth league official William Mutumanje, commonly known as Acie Lumumba, led to the suspension of RBZ directors on corruption allegations: Mirirayi Chiremba, Norman Mataruka, Gresham Muradzikwa and Azvinandawa Saburi.

Ncube was however later forced to disband the taskforce following a major outcry in government and in the ruling Zanu PF. George Charamba told the press yesterday Mangudya’s term of office would be extended once it expires.

‘‘The President is very clear on the Reserve Bank Governor’s tenure and his performance. Not only is he there to stay but the President is about to renew his contract for a second tenure,’’ Charamba said.
Efforts to get Ncube’s comment were unsuccessful. – ZimInd