via Salary monster eating its own Sunday, 26 January 2014 by Garikai Mazara SundayMail
The past few weeks have been very interesting and at the same time depressing. US$230 000 per month? What exactly do we call this?
Then the very revealing memo written by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, Cde George Charamba, way back in 2012 but was published last Tuesday.
That was a loaded memo and there really was no need for anyone to speak after the publication of that memo.
In that memo, the permanent secretary was raising a number of glaring managerial shortcomings on the part of management at ZBC, — shortcomings, which, if they had been met — some form of intervention would have seen a semblance of order being restored to the ailing corporation.
Whether by design or by default, the following day we woke up to shocking news that the country’s biggest medical aid society, Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS), with a membership of around 600 000 (whom they proudly and roundly advertise as “our proud million”) was sitting on a time bomb, as it is owing about US$38 million to service providers.
The medical aid society countered the allegations, arguing that instead, they are owed US$44 million, which meant they have US$6 million change.
Then if it was by design, then that design got all the more prettier the following day, Thursday that is, when we, once again, woke up to shocking salaries for the top 14 at PSMAS, of which it was reported that the chief executive officer was getting US$230 000 per month.
That would be akin to winning the Lotto jackpot every month.
Most of you, readers, would just be comfortable winning that jackpot once in your lifetime.
When Happison Muchechetere was sent on forced leave at ZBC, there was a lot of public outcry over his salary, then reported to be about US$40 000 per month.
Curiously, the man he reported to, who was his board chairman, is one Cuthbert Dube (poor reader might excuse social media which was quick to rechristen him Cashbert), who apparently is the US$230 000 CEO in question at PSMAS.
Makes sense now, doesn’t it?
That Mr Dube found nothing amiss with Mr Muchechetere taking home 40 grand every month, in any case simple addition and subtraction advised him that Muchechetere would need six months or thereabout, to get to his US$230 000.
Never mind the comparisons with CEOs in South Africa and Botswana that were made in the story when the salaries scandal broke, logic would suggest that in an economy that is struggling as ours, salary scales and disparities be minimal.
So, if Mr Dube found nothing wrong that in the company where he is CEO, the top 14 of the executive would take the majority of the salary schedule, honestly he would not have seen anything wrong with Mr Muchechetere taking just US$40 000.
But then given the rot that has been characteristic with these parastatals, especially their non-performance, vis-à-vis the remuneration that the top management is getting, probably it would not be wrong to ask the responsible authorities to intervene.
While in social circles the CEOs might be guilty of handing themselves huge sums of money while their employees went home empty-handed for months or against non-performing statuses, at law what they did was legal and standing, for what they got was sanctioned by their boards and, ultimately, the responsible ministers.
If a probe team, rather an audit, was to be sanctioned into the financial operations of these parastatals, it might not be surprising at all that Cuthbert Dube is actually earning a pittance, for there are many other cash-rich parastatals, companies that handle cash on a daily basis.
(But then, in a country which has produced more economic blueprints than probe teams, they could be but just day-dreaming.)
For argument’s sake, the public might want to know how much the Zesa CEO earns, this in light of the massive load-shedding (sorry for the rather inappropriate contrast) that the country has had to bear.
There are many parastatals and authorities where the deliverables are non-existent or hazy, such that expenditure is unaccounted for, where the tender system is always manipulated and favouring a few.
Once upon a time, it was difficult to supply water chemicals to the City of Harare, because the tender was in the hands of one person.
Such scenarios are still existing today, such that there are known individuals who win particular tenders at particular entities. The common saying is, “There is a tender at Zesa, but why bother because so and so owns Zesa.”
It seems as though we have systemised corruption, hence the call for the authorities to intervene and put an end to the nonsense that is happening in our public sector. Because as it looks, the corruption is so endemic that it is starting at the top, and if the authorities do not intervene to stop the rot, the country will continue in a freefall.
In a way, the intervention will help boost confidence in the economy, for one of the cornerstones of Zim Asset is a results-based management system.
If the CEO of the country, who manages a population of 13 million and so much natural wealth, can only earn almost US$2 000 per month, what justification is there for someone who manages contributions on behalf of 600 000 people only to earn 1 150 percent more than the President?
Both the instances at ZBC and PSMAS must be used as examples that Zimbabwe is set for a new dispensation, and that corrupt tendencies should not be part of that dispensation.
Many were shocked that the responsible minister for PSMAS did not react immediately by placing Dube & Co on unpaid leave, until a forensic audit was done.
Such silence somehow legitimises what ordinary citizens would see as corrupt tendencies.
Sometimes you get worried when you read in the newspapers that such-and-such a CEO has left a publicly-listed company to head a parastatal.
Common sense would suggest that would be a climbdown, but now that the salaries of such CEOs are outing, it’s now becoming crystal clear why such moves are happening.