Zim finance minister sets up a team to control monetary policy
ZIMBABWEAN Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube established a monetary policy committee (MPC) in his latest attempt to stabilise an economy in free-fall.
The former economics professor, appointed last year to get the economy out of a two-decade rut, named a nine-member panel consisting of academics, bankers and the governor and two deputy governors of the nation’s central bank.
The committee, first mooted in March, is a step toward setting a benchmark interest rate and introducing inflation targeting as Zimbabwe’s newly introduced currency plunges and consumer prices surge.
Ncube reintroduced the Zimbabwe dollar, which the country had abandoned in 2009, and banned the use of foreign currency in June. The unit, a precursor of which was tied to the US dollar at parity in February, is now trading at 11.99 to the dollar.
While Ncube has suspended the release of annual inflation statistics until February, economists estimate that the rate is between 230 and 570 percent.
The introduction of the MPC will help provide oversight of the central bank, though its mandate remains unclear, said Lloyd Mlotshwa, head of equities at brokerage IH Securities in Harare, the capital.
“Until their terms of reference are clarified, it’s difficult to gauge how effective the monetary policy committee will be,” he said. “For example, if there is a vote on interest rates, does each member have one vote? Is the central bank governor also the chairperson of the MPC?”
The MPC members include Kumbirai Katsande, a former managing director of Nestlé SA’s Zimbabwean unit, and Douglas Munatsi, the former chief executive of ABC Holdings, which owns lender BancABC. Also included are Eddie Cross, a former opposition politician, and Ashok Chakravarti, an economics professor at the University of Zimbabwe. THE Q(H)UBEKA Trust, which was formed to allocate funds to silicosis-affected mineworkers, said yesterday that it had paid out R166.6 million to 1 626 qualifying beneficiaries and dependant claimants since its inception in March 2016. The trust was established after a lengthy compensation battle by lawyers Richard Meeran and Zanele Mbuyisa, representing former mineworkers who had contracted silicosis as a result of working for various mines owned by Anglo American South Africa and AngloGold Ashanti. “Allocating payments to those who have been affected by this devastating occupational lung disease has been a long and arduous but hugely rewarding process for the trust,” chairperson Dr Sophia KistingCairncross said. The trust, established to process the claims of a closed list of 4 365 named claimants who primarily live in the Eastern Cape, Free State and Lesotho, compensated 481 beneficiaries with R48.4m between the March 2018 and February 2019 financial year. | African News Agency (ANA)