RBZ sinks to new low : Quis Custodis Custodes?

Harare – When we thought that we have seen it all at the central bank during Gono’s era, the current RBZ management led by John Mangudya has refused to be outsmarted not only on one front but two.  Allowing for a compromise on the overdraft facility to facilitate unbudgeted for expenditure and likewise letting loose money supply through the issuance of excessive TBs for quasi fiscal activities gratification. These two recurring moves brought about a deep economic crisis which to date looks set to take Zimbabwe back to the dreaded dungeon of 2008.

But when we thought that was enough, the Bank has done it again and this time it is a PR boob initiated by the new boys manning the national purse in cahoots with the governor and of course a section of the ruling elite. In a clear Hollywood movie style episode we saw the clique hiring a mercenary in Mutumanje, a motor mouth unbridled and unprincipled young chap, celebrated for nothing but eloquence and political gossip. The plotters at the Ministry of Finance shameless posited him as a communications expert.

What however boggles the mind is the approach to national monetary issues used in this regard. The succeeding suspension of 4 executive directors by the Bank after purportedly being exposed by the said Mutumanje, stinks to the ear. A properly constituted public institution of the highest order in respect of the Central Bank is guided by standards and these standards should not be substituted for mere social media rants. Officials cannot be suspended or subject to investigation based on random rants and accusations by just about anyone, this is not banana republic.

The statement released in respect of the suspension did not highlight in what capacity Mutumanje was involved and what parameters were used to adopt his rants as fact or sufficient evidence to prompt a suspension. In short the governor and those mafia like characters at the ministry should have developed the mettle to confront the directors head on, institute a forensic audit in line with statutes and standards governing the Bank and put paid the matter.  But they did not, which shows they had an ulterior motive and that has even become more clearer now that the couterie of suspended directors is back at the RBZ building cleared of any “queen beeing”, not that I expected a different outcome.

Everything with the present government, just as the one before it, is very predictable as the rising sun and its settling.  For example it is as clear that the “austerity” pronounced by MoF will not work except for those who live in dreamland and entertain irrational hopes, time will prove this. Now back to the RBZ boob, what was the plan and why did it fail? The plot for starters was to sway Zimbabweans’ perception and sympathy in favour of the new dispensation in the face of a grippling forex crisis characterised with growing fuel queues, basics shortages and rising prices. It was a time buying gimmick and a positioning stance which however had little substance. This does not mean Queen B does not exist. The cartel is real and it is true in all instances where scarcity of resources abounds. In instances where there is sincerity in tackling such, no such sideshows are used to rout out the cartel.

In  capping, the bar keeps being set so low, confidence further erodes and the crisis deepens. It is sad that we have come to this end where dog eat dog and only the fittest man survives.  In all regional countries where forex is a crisis, there is an independent board tackling allocation issues and this improves allocation efficiencies. This however can only be satisfied if the appointed board is not also captured.  Given the very high chances of such occurrences, further partial liberalisation of the allocation through banks may yield incremental results.

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