Looking for one of the trickiest jobs in investment management? The Mutapa Fund has one just for you

Parastatal decay needs investment, but there are no takers (pic: Sibeko)

Are you an investment professional keen to take on one of toughest investment jobs around? The Mutapa Investment Fund, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, is looking for a new Chief Investment Officer.

According to an advert by a hiring agency, whoever gets the new job will be “responsible for formulating and implementing investment strategies aligned with (Mutapa’s) objectives and risk appetite.” The officer will plan “financial models and perform valuation analysis to assess investment feasibility and potential returns”. They will “evaluate and negotiate investment deals”, and ensure “adherence to sound investment policies”.

Except, whoever who gets this job is unlikely to find it this straightforward. The new investment professional will report to John Mangudya, who has been appointed to lead the fund after a less-than-stellar decade at the top of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

The chief investment officer’s big job will be to decide how government invests. For the officer, this will demand more than just good investment sense – they will have to prepare to deal with the same political interference that has driven top skills from the civil service. And they will have to do all this under a tough – and tainted – boss.

To understand why this is a tough job, one has to look at what Mutapa is invested in, and how politically influential those companies are. With Mutapa, government has centralised control of many parastatals.

Among the companies is Defold, the vehicle into which government has controversially put some of its mining assets, previously held under the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation. Mutapa also holds government’s shares in Kuvimba, one of the largest mining operations in Zimbabwe. The chief investment officer will want to weigh in on strategy there, which will be tough given Kuvimba’s own political clout.

The officer will have to make investment decisions on politically sensitive firms such as the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe, Petrotrade, NetOne, the National Railways of Zimbabwe Holdings and NRZ Ltd, TelOne, the Zimbabwe Power Company, Air Zimbabwe, Cottco, the Agriculture Finance Corporation and Hwange Colliery.

The chief investment officer will also have to start with little. Mutapa is supposed to be funded by a quarter of earnings from mineral royalties. However, no significant seed capital has been budgeted. In his 2024 budget, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said he expects Mutapa to turn around the parastatals under its care.  

“In line with its objectives, the Board and management of the fund are mandated to demand and implement turnaround strategies from the various companies it now owns, ensure robust investment policies and key performance targets are implemented, monitored and evaluated,” Ncube said.

The advert says the new job needs an experienced hand with at least seven years’ worth of experience in investment management, “with at least five years in a senior leadership role.” They must have a Master’s degree in Finance, Economics, Business Administration, or a related field. They must be a Chartered Financial Analyst or hold a similar qualification.

The advert should have also added: “Incumbent must also have a spine, and the guile to navigate the toxic nexus between Zimbabwean politics and parastatals.” Because that, in reality, will be their biggest job.