‘That’s the way to go’ 

Source: ‘That’s the way to go’ | The Sunday Mail May 13, 2018

Norman Muchemwa
ZIMBABWE’S efforts to grow the economy will come to nought without support for the new dispensation’s push to reform State enterprises and parastatals (SEPs).

Government is in the process of prescribing various measures to get the best out of the public sector, which include dissolving, liquidating, merging and privatising some SEPs.

Cabinet recently took a decision to reform parastatals, the majority which are bleeding the fiscus.

The merger of Netone and TelOne is taking shape, as well as the consolidation of Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe and Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe into one entity.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company, the Zimbabwe Power Company and the Zesa Enterprises boards will be dissolved to pave way for a single Zesa Holdings board.

Entities like New Ziana and the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board will be placed under the ambit of their parent ministries as departments.

The emphasis on good governance and management has become critical in State companies where, for years, financial accountability has been almost non-existent

Industrialist Mr Sifelani Jabangwe says reforms of SEPs is the way to go.

“Merging of parastatals is a welcome development as there was duplication which would increase both costs and bureaucracy in some of these institutions. For instance, the Special Economic Zones Authority of Zimbabwe could be part of Zimbabwe Investment Authority since their roles are the same,” said Mr Jabangwe.

He added: “In terms of consolidating, we have always said the number of parastatals are too many. But we should also be careful in the measures that we set for these parastatals.

“We do not think, for instance, that ZimTrade and ZIA should be put together because their objectives and roles are not similar. ZimTrade has an independent function which is export oriented growth, which is a role it should play independent of other enterprises which are there to promote inward investment. The two roles are conflicted.”

Economist and corporate governance expert Mr Kingstone Khanyile said there was need to root out poor corporate governance.

He said there was need to guard against coming up with measures to help the State companies without addressing the fundamental issues that had resulted in the companies declining.

“The review came at the opportune time where non-performing parastatals have been draining money from Treasury.

“When the new dispensation started looking at the contribution of the public sector, they have realised that some parastatals are operating at a loss and drawing taxpayer’s money.

“We need a situation where government’s decisions on the future of the parastatals bring positive results to the economy and create employment as well as earning foreign currency for the country.

“They should operate efficiently, effectively and profitably. Most companies that come here to build roads and other infrastructure are parastatals, so we can also do the same thing to see our State companies getting foreign contracts,” Mr Khanyile said.