Oxford Economist, Olympic Swimmer Get Zimbabwe Cabinet Posts

(Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa appointed Oxford economist and former African Development Bank Vice President Mthuli Ncube as the country’s next finance minister.

Ncube, 55, replaced Patrick Chinamasa in a slimmed down administration of 20 ministers, two less than before, Chief Secretary to the Cabinet Misheck Sibanda told reporters Friday in the capital, Harare. Mines Minister Winston Chitando retained his post, while Olympic swimmer and former world record holder Kirsty Coventry was appointed minister for youth.

“In the next five years we will be able to transform our people into middle-income citizens,” Mnangagwa said at the briefing, referring to the World Bank definition of countries with gross national income per capita of $1,026 to $12,475. Zimbabwe’s GNI per capita measured $910 in 2017.

After almost two decades of economic mismanagement under former President Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s Treasury is unable to raise new loans until it clears $1.7 billion of arrears, infrastructure is crumbling and the country is experiencing crippling cash shortages. Mnangagwa, 75, who won a disputed July 30 election, has pledged to revive mining, agriculture and manufacturing, ensure macro-economic and fiscal discipline, and bring debt under control.

Ncube has a PhD in economics from the University of Cambridge and previously lectured finance at the London School of Economics. He’s also served as chief economist at the African Development Bank and headed the business school at Wits University in Johannesburg, according to his biography on the website of the University of Oxford, where he’s a visiting professor in African Studies.

Among Mnangagwa’s other appointments were Oppah Muchinguri as defense minister, Mangaliso Ndlovu as head of the industry portfolio, and Jorum Gumbo as energy minister. Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo retained his post.

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