Eddie Cross: ‘Mthuli Ncube Best In Africa Award Means Nothing’
“This award is a recognition of all the work I and the Treasury team have put into implementing various economic policies and financial management that have spearheaded the transformation of the economy”, an excited Ncube told state media recently.
The recent naming of Zimbabwe’s Finance minister Professor Mthuli Ncube as the “Best Finance Minister in Africa 2023” by Reputation Poll International, has divided opinions at home and abroad as wild-fire conversations on the matter continue to rage on.
A former London School of Economics and chief economist at the African Development Bank prior to his appointment, Mthuli’s six years at the helm of the Treasury has been riddled by a volley of challenges which include runway inflation, low exports, tight liquidity and a dramatically devaluing local currency. With that backdrop, the award conveniently comes in as a confidence booster for the man with the hardest job in the land.
However, not everyone is excited about this development. General citizens who have borne the brunt of Professor Ncube’s austerity measures introduced at the beginning of his tenure in 2018 have merged voices with economic analysts and commentators in questioning the sincerity of the award and the credibility of the poll.
Economist and former monetary policy advisor Eddie Cross dismissed the award as a farce.
“The award means nothing. It is a scam out of Spain”, Cross told My Afrika Magazine when solicited for his opinion on the development.
“This company (Reputation Poll International) sends out hundreds of these awards to all sorts of people who are mentioned in the news. They make money out of acceptances. The company is tiny. I have been awarded these in the past and I just ignored them”, Cross explained.
Information gleaned by this writer alleges that the organization used to operate from a garage in Madrid, Spain. With a staff compliment of just one and a lean balance sheet as of March 2023, and it is headed by a 38-year-old Nigerian national, Tonye Rex Idaminabo.
An unnamed Zimbabwean recipient of one of the awards claims that they had to turn down the offer after realising they had to part with $3000 to get to the awards dinner and collect the gong.
On its website, the organization identifies itself as a “strategic consultancy agency specialised in corporate reputation management and ranking reputable global brands organizations“.
Despite all the negativity this award has attracted, there is a section of the citizenry that believe Mthuli Ncube deserves the recognition. Economic commentator, Mlungisi Ben Ncube, opines the minister has done well under the circumstances.
“When he came in, he needed a bailout of 2 billion dollars, he didn’t get it. But he managed to create money from within the economy. On his defence, he cleared some embarrassing Eskom arrears”, said Ncube.
Sympathisers also give credit to Mthuli Ncube for growing the economy by 3% at a time when the global economy was grounded by the Covid-19 pandemic. With rising inequality and high unemployment levels, Zimbabweans will find it difficult to appreciate these few positives Mthuli Ncube has registered in his career. His recent budget proposal, laced with a concoction of more austere measures and taxes, has created apprehension and prospects of gloom across the citizenry.
The 2023 edition of the Reputation Awards was held on the 9th of December in London. Mthuli Ncube also appeared on the list of the 100 most influential people in Africa.
Notable personalities on the list include Malawian president Lazarus Chakwera and Hollywood based Zimbabwean actress, Danai Gurira.