Mthuli Ncube knows he is going to have a tough time as Zimbabwe’s new finance minister: he is taking over an economy that has been profoundly abused and looted. Ncube’s appointment by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to his slightly smaller cabinet — which includes a few dubious members as well — has been widely applauded. He is not part of the ruling Zanu-PF party and he once tried to raise funds for opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who died in February. Ncube has an impressive CV: chief economist and vice-president of the African Development Bank; a PhD in mathematical finance from Cambridge University. He is well known regionally and has superb international connections — which he will need as he looks for bailouts from international financial institutions. But, importantly, Ncube doesn’t need the job. He was living in Switzerland when the call came asking him to return home to fix the economy. Some would say he is taking on an impossible job, but perhaps the challenge is part of...

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