HomeOpinion & AnalysisLetter from America: Mthuli Ncube’s budget a fraud

Letter from America: Mthuli Ncube’s budget a fraud

BY KENNETH MUFUKA

”An act or a statement, or omission, which operates as such, though (maybe) not intended” thereby giving a false impression that we as a country are on the right path to economic prosperity”. That is the most benevolent dictionary description about Finance minister Mthuli Ncube’s budget I can find.

For the sake of argument, we remind our readers of the most salient issues addressed in Brother Ncube’s budget, which fall short of their intended purpose. One of the most aggravating issues addressed is the compensation allocation set aside for white farmers.

Ncube addressed this matter on May 16, 2019. “Government is clearing all obstacles that have hampered cordial and co-operative relations with the UK and European Union. That is the direction this government has taken.” Briefly, the Zimbabwe government assumed (or Ncube assumed) that compensation was the main obstacle between themselves and the West, including the US. Secondly, Ncube assumed that there was some money somewhere that could be used to accomplish this purpose. However, parliament was not consulted and the West is beyond reconciliation. In any case, victims of Gukurahundi fall under the same rubric.

Ncube is reported to have set aside US$53 million in 2018 for the purpose (December 6, 2018), but by July 2021 he was forced to defer the exercise due to Covid-19. Meanwhile, in 2019 a sum of US$3.5 billion was agreed upon. To my knowledge, parliament was not consulted. Anyway, by June 20, 2021, Ncube confessed that “it “has taken longer than expected to appoint financial advisors” for this issue.

The Herald (June 20., 2021) reported that 93 farmers had been compensated. The veracity of this statement by the Herald is not certified. The issue here is complicated; parliament should have been involved or consulted; secondly, compensation for whites raises the corollary issue of compensation for Gukurahundi survivors; thirdly Zimbabwe, without a clean statement of wrong doing cannot explicate itself from the wrong doing done to white farmers, 90% of whom were born in Zimbabwe.

Lastly, Ncube (September 6, 2021) now finds himself in New York and later in Dubai, trying to raise money through bonds for this cause. Whether the US and Arab financiers will be seduced by the 6% interest offered, in an unsafe and fluid financial environment such as Zimbabwe, is doubtful.

The whole scheme and the budget on which it is based, turns out, therefore to be abracadabra.

I consulted some professors on this second issue. Their argument is simple. If Ncube’s statistics are grossly inaccurate, or grossly improbable, then the whole edifice collapses. I will put the case in a manner, which even my brother Joseph Chinotimba will understand. If I fail to make my case, I owe the brother a goat.

If one reads Ncube’s budget presentation, November 26, 2020, (pages 10-11) one will find the following figures presented as facts. Inflation, Ncube told Parliament, estimated at 376% would fall by 127 points to 249% end of that year. The value of the Zimbabwe dollar at that time was US$1 to ZW81. As we speak, the Zimbabwe dollar is now worth one cent US. If Ncube doubles the number of dollars he wants to spend next year, surely in reality, he is only catching up with inflation by the amount of devaluation. Surely, brother Chinotimba can understand that.

Inflation is the key to understanding the fraudulent nature of Zimbabwe’s financial shenanigans. Here is another example. Before November 7, 2017, an average teacher earned US$540 per month. Today, Ncube says he has increased their salaries to a basic $17 000 per month. Economics 101: Which teacher earned more than the other? (10 points)

Here we must give Brother Ncube some credit. One reason for the inflation has been the auction system. As usual, government tried an overreach. The auction system itself is fraudulent (part of an abracadabra). A parent with a student son in South Africa cannot buy Zuid Africa Rand. That parent, therefore, must satisfy his needs on the parallel market. Secondly, let us say Sunlight Company has bought US$1 million dollars from the Reserve Bank. It takes 15 weeks to receive the cheque. Please, Lord Almighty, give us patience. Fifteen weeks is almost four months.

Do I need further explanation that Sunlight Company would be better off buying the money it needs on the black market? Do I need to explain that I was in Bulawayo and had US$100 and I could not change that money in a registered bank? The bus owner kindly showed me (Zimbabwe English) vakomana who were trading right beside Sun Hotel at Shell Station.

Lastly, for lack of space, Ncube’s figures are a complete fraud. He has set aside some $2.3 billion for the rehabilitation of the Railways, Zisco, Air Zimbabwe, Zupco and parastatals. Firstly one must understand why Air Zimbabwe and Zisco collapsed before putting any money there. I was at Victoria Falls when an intelligence agent, presumably a Mugabe stalwart, ordered passengers to “deplane”. It was needed in Harare for the personal enjoyment and travel of Robert Mugabe. My American guests asked me: “Who the hell is M-Mugabe (sic)?” Zisco suffered a similar fate.

Ncube is worried about smuggled cell phones. The cell phones, which cost US$30 a piece will now carry a tax burden of US$50 registration fee. The reason behind this is to monitor possible smuggling. Official statistics from his office say that Zimbabwe loses US$100 million in gold smugglings. Henrietta Rushwaya was arrested for carrying 5 kilogrammes of gold at Robert Mugabe International Airport. Ncube is worried about a US$30 cell phone carried by a herd boy. Rushwaya is enjoying her life away from a jailhouse. Please God give us patience.

The professors I consulted on this matter said the following damning words. The budget for the Central Intelligence Organisation is not included, nor are its expenditures audited. Parastatal incomes are not included nor have they been under the supervision of Parliament. Zupco has no plan. David Cruttenden, a former United Bus Company manager, talking to Brother Trevor Ncube, confessed that there was no discernible plan for Zimbabwe’s transport. Zupco is everything to anybody. There are rural bus routes not covered Zupco as well as urban lines. There are no timetables. Brother Chinotimba can go out on Fourth Street and Robert Mugabe Road and see for himself the plight of passengers who have been there three hours. Ncube in his budget is offering a “subsidy” and perpetuating the incongruity of such a fraudulent system.

This is the biggest fraud that was ever played on a race of humans.

  • Ken Mufuka is a Zimbabwe patriot. His award -winning book, Matters of Conscience (2002) has been reprinted. His books can be found at Innov Bookshops in Zimbabwe.

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