Ncube abandons technocrat tag
FINANCE minister Mthuli Ncube has abandoned his public image as President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s poster boy technocratic cabinet minister after throwing his hat in the ring ahead of the Zanu PF primary elections slated for this weekend.
Riding on international goodwill following the ouster in a military coup of long-time ruler Robert Mugabe, Mnangagwa appointed a new cabinet which blended the loyal old guard, young Turks and technocrats such as Ncube.
Mnangagwa promised to break with the past and normalise relations with the West which had isolated his predecessor for nearly two decades.
Ncube, a Cambridge-trained economist, left Zimbabwe in the early 2000s after a bank he founded — Barbican — collapsed. He then embarked on a journey which took him to lecture rooms of prestigious universities to becoming vice-president of a regional lender.
This week, the Finance minister was named as one of the candidates in the race to contest in the Zanu PF primary elections in Bulawayo metropolitan province. Should Ncube win the primaries, he will stand as the ruling party’s parliamentary candidate for Cowdray Park constituency in the August general elections.
His campaign poster has been shared on various platforms by his handlers and this week Information ministry permanent secretary Nick Mangwana also posted it on Twitter.
The development comes after Ncube was elected a Zanu PF central committee member last October.
The central committee is Zanu PF’s highest decision-making body outside congress.
His participation in primary elections confirms that Ncube is now a full-time Zanu PF politician with ambitions to entrench himself in the party.
When Ncube was appointed to cabinet as Finance minister in 2018, he projected himself as a technocrat who was committed to tackling his tough mission and created an impression that he was going to operate above the Zanu PF political fray.
Many Zimbabweans at home and abroad therefore gave a nod of approval, considering that he was held in high esteem.
He was seen as the man who could rescue the economy which was on a downward spiral, given his massive leadership experience, reputation and academic qualifications.
Besides being a holder of a PhD in mathematical finance from Cambridge University, Ncube has also worked at the very top level of a number of prestigious institutions. He was previously chief economist and vice-president of the African Development Bank (AfDB).
As chief economist at AfDB, he oversaw the economics complex, which was focused on the process of knowledge management and economic research.
As part of his duties, Ncube supervised the Development Research Department, Statistics Department and African Development Institute. As vice-president of AfDB, Ncube was a member of the senior management team of the bank and contributed to its general strategic direction.
Before his appointment as Finance minister, he was managing director and head of Quantum Global Research Lab in Switzerland, which is part of Quantum Global Group, the largest private equity group dedicated to investing in Africa.
He was also previously a regulator and a board member of the South African Financial Services Board (FSB), which regulates non-bank financial institutions in South Africa.
Ncube was also chairperson of the board of the African Economic Research Consortium, chairperson of the Global Agenda Council on “Poverty and Economic Development” (World Economic Forum) and a governor of the African Capacity Building Foundation.
He is also a professor at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom where he taught economic development, public policy and doing business in Africa, at both the Said Business School and the Blavatnik School of Government.
He was also a distinguished professor of banking and financial markets at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.
His curriculum vitae therefore is not only impressive but also reflects his lofty status in the academy.
If Ncube succeeds to win the Zanu PF primary elections to represent the party as its candidate for Cowdray Park, he faces a tough challenge to win the seat because Bulawayo is generally a stronghold of the opposition.
The constituency was won in 2018 elections by the MDC-Alliance’s Stella Ndlovu while it was still Luveve-Cowdray Park, but after this year’s delimitation exercise it was split into two constituencies, Luveve and Cowdray Park.
In June 2019, Ncube was said to be in the running to represent Zanu PF in the 3 August Lupane East by-election, indicating his ambitions to join full scale party politics.
Ncube is among senior government officials and diplomats who have seized the Midlands Black Rhino Conservancy, in typical primitive wealth accumulation style. Mnangagwa’s brother Patrick is also among the invaders.
The conservancy is a highly protected area because it is a sanctuary for the endangered animal.