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Chinamasa finds his groove

Foreign engagement

Former President Mugabe was never a fan of the IMF and the World Bank, or foreign investment in general. At one time, Chinamasa was in the middle of delicate talks with the IMF, when Mugabe told a ZANU-PF meeting: the IMF can “go to hell”.

In 2016, Zhuwao said FDI was “ungodly” and Zimbabwe could do without it.

Yesterday, Chinamasa was able to confidently promise that he was prepared to make the “necessary sacrifices” to engage global capital, repeatedly referring to Mnangagwa’s inauguration speech, which pledged reengagement. That’s one more shot at his former President.

Wage bill reform

In 2015, the cabinet agreed to a programme of reforming the civil service. Part of that was a plan to remove over 3700 “youth officers” from the Government payroll. But at a rally in Chinhoyi in July, Mugabe changed his mind after he was reminded that these were ZANU-PF activists.

“Our economy is recovering. Is this the time we should be firing our youths? Whether this is the Minister of Finance or Minister of Labour, I say stop it,” he declared. The next day, it was announced that the whole 2015 civil service reform plan had been frozen.

Yesterday, it was easy to see Chinamasa’s delight as he announced he could now send those youths away. The cuts would save the taxpayer $1.6 million per month and US$19.3 million per year, he said. That was another middle finger to his former boss.

Government spending

Chinamasa’s biggest undoing was his inability to say “no” to Mugabe’s spending habits. By mid-year, Mugabe had overspent on his travel budget by $23 million. His large delegations on foreign trips were a source of ridicule and a drain on government funds. Government officials often had to make embarrassing justifications for the spending.

“Diplomacy is not costless,” presidential spokesman George Charamba once said.

In his budget, Chinamasa took delight in announcing an end to all that. Delegations will be cut and travel will be minimised.

“Experience has shown that Zimbabwe delegations to regional and international fora being among the largest from the region at such gatherings,” Chinamasa said.

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