Reasons why Mthuli Ncube will perform

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SHORT VIEW by BATANAI MATSIKA

“Pricing Options under Stochastic Volatility” is what Professor Mthuli Ncube specialised in on his PhD studies in Finance at Cambridge University (UK). There is no doubt that Ncube is a smart guy and set to be the main actor or super hero (more like a Black Panther or Superman) in the “New Zimbabwe” movie after being appointed Minister of Finance & Economic Development on September 7 2018. The man is already on most local and international financial and business headlines, from newspapers (print and online) to TV and radio stations. There are of course mixed feelings on whether he is the best man for the job but we put forward four reasons why with think this Finance and Economics Super-Hero will likely play a very exciting part in the next 5–year action movie shooting.

Firstly, Ncube is a professional not a politician and his resume says it all. He is not part of ZANU PF structures and has extensive experience as an investment banker. He was chairman of Selwyn Capital, an investment banking boutique specialising in Leveraged buy-outs/buyins. He has also worked for Investec Asset Management as a Portfolio Manager and Head of Asset Allocation Strategy. He managed Investec’s Global Managed Fund, an offshore umbrella-fund registered in Ireland.

Secondly, the professor is well connected and has the necessary links required to engage Zimbabwe with international investors and multilateral organisations. We highlight that he is former Chief Economist and Vice President of the African Development Bank (AfDB). The new minister is already planning to set up an international advisory council to lead Zimbabwe’s re-engagement efforts with the international community. Before his appointment, he was managing director and Head of Quantum Global Research Lab (Switzerland), a company that invests across Africa. Interestingly, he has an active profile on LinkedIn; https://www.linkedin.com/in/professor-mthuli-ncube461a4932.

Thirdly, Ncube is not just an academic – he understands entrepreneurship and appreciates innovation. We recall that he was behind the establishment of Barbican Holdings. While the investment banking house went under during the banking crisis in Zimbabwe, it was well known for its innovation around derivative instruments (options). We also highlight that he founded the centre of entrepreneurship at Wits University (South Africa) when he was Dean at the prestigious business school. He has already proposed the set up on a National Venture Capital Fund that will look to provide long term equity capital to SMEs in Zimbabwe.

Finally, Ncube has the “energy or fire-power” to try out new things. The professor has already thrown some ideas around currency reforms (dollarising the economy and joining the rand monetary area), liberalisation of exchange controls, promotion of domestic investments and embracing block chain technology/cryptocurrencies.

That said, some critics have been raising several arguments, pointing out the issue of the demise of Barbican Holdings as his weakest point. We think this powerful quote by Albert Einstein will allay their concerns; “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

Batanai Matsika is head of research at Akribos Research Services. He can be contacted on +263 78 358 4745 or batanai@ akriboscapital.com