via We must be the change | The Zimbabwean 28.01.14 by Vince Musewe
I am much disturbed of the trend where our CEO’s are not ensuring that their workers are paid on time while they ensure that they are paid on time and in full each month. I am repulsed by the wage disparities I hear of. Some of our CEO’s earn 100 times and more what the workers earn. They continue to retrench, but personally retain the comforts and packages that are not only colonial but obscene.
I am still to be convinced that most our CEO’s contribute 100 times more value than workers to the businesses which they manage. I can’t fathom why poor workers must pay for CEO’s children’s school fees and yet their children are being kicked out of school for failing to pay school fees on time.
I do not know how our industry leaders can defend driving the huge and expensive company cars fully paid for and maintained by the sweat of their workers. For goodness sake they should at least pay for the cars they drive. This is now international practice.
You see, these are the very conditions why the black man decided to wage the armed struggle against white minority and the income inequalities of colonialism. I am afraid that the very same conditions and behaviours during colonialism exist today and some of us have become complicit in continuing their existence. The enemy is within us.
Our country needs good men and women who are driven not by personal material gain, but by doing the right thing. It is not right that our children should be denied schooling for a mere $100, which our leaders freely spend on a bottle of imported whisky. It is not right that an increasing number of our people die because they cannot afford to pay a mere $40 to be admitted to a hospital while CEO’s pay club fees much more than that. That our pensioners who created this economy with their sweat must survive on a mere $60 a month. This is not right.
I cannot stand in front of anyone and claim a high moral ground here, nor do I seek to prescribe to people how they should conduct their lives. We all have freedom of choice. I am merely driven by a sense of responsibility that requires me to point out those inconvenient truths which so many of us avoid.
Our country will never achieve its full potential where we do not value each other and treat each other with dignity and respect. I am convinced that the time has now come for us to commit ourselves in all we do to work for and promote the dignity, security and prosperity of all our citizens.
In order to do that, we must all re-evaluate who we are and what we are doing. We are postponing the attainment of personal freedoms that we all desire through oppressing others.
I still have to be convinced that Zimbabwean companies must pay for motor vehicles, petrol, a second car for the wife including petrol, maids, school fees for the children, holidays, club fees, telephone bills, travel allowances, per diem allowances and some even get a clothing and grooming allowance! We must remember that all these are being paid from revenue generated by workers who are lucky to earn $540 a month, the poverty datum line income.
As far as am I am concerned, these CEO’s cannot point a figure at the corruption and waste by our politicians because they too are complicit in this charade. There is also the trend of having CEO’s for life, even when it is clear that they have become stale and complacent.
The logical impact of all this is that our production costs as a country become too high and uncompetitive. You then get the CEO’s gathering and complaining that Chinese imports are putting them out of business because they are cheaper and yet they themselves are the biggest unit cost of production in Zimbabwe. I implore the ZCTU to take this fight seriously.
The cancer of unnecessary extravagance and waste within the state and its enterprises has permeated our private sector at the expense of ordinary workers. How then can we expect our country to be competitive and productive? As I always say; we have to be the change we want to see and the sooner that happens the better off Zimbabwe will be. The Zimbabwe we want is based on equity, work ethic and fair remuneration especially a decent wage. The people come first!
Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org