Finance Minister of Zimbabwe Mthuli Ncube, gestures during an interview with AFP at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting, on January 22, 2019, in Davos, eastern Switzerland. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)
The Zimbabwean government is set to privatize a number of state firms as part of efforts to cut spending and shore up its coffers. According to Zimbabwe Finance minister Mthuli Ncube, the move could raise as much as $350 million. Lined up for sale are five state-owned telecommunications companies and a bank.
Ncube said on Tuesday the government would dispose of shares in its two mobile phone operators NetOne and Telecel Zimbabwe, the country’s sole fixed line telephony company TelOne, postal services Zimpost and state-owned savings bank POSB. “Work is already under way to identify transaction advisers. Government projects to realise over $350 million from this initial process,” Ncube said in a statement, without giving a timeline. Ncube was however not immediately available to comment but he said in October selling parastatals was one of the ways to reduce government spending.
The government has targeted selling some or all shares in 43 of its companies, most of them loss-making and which have relied on state bailouts over the years. Rebuilding the troubled economy is the biggest challenge to President Emmerson Mnangagwa,
who was re-elected in a disputed vote last July and is seeking to pivot away from some of the disastrous policies of his predecessor Robert Mugabe. The Zimbabwean economy is experiencing a severe dollar crunch and faces more headwinds from a drought this year that has wilted crops and left up to 5.3 million people in need of food aid, according to a U.N. humanitarian agency.