Source: EDITORIAL COMMENT: Jackals guarding chickens | The Financial Gazette October 13, 2016
REPORTS on the goings-on at the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef) bring to the fore the overbearing nature of our politicians in the running of State enterprises. According to media reports, Zimdef has been abused by officials at the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education to bankroll ZANU-PF activities, including those of its functionaries.
Thanks to the infighting in the ruling party, the closet doors have been broken, leaving skeletons scattered everywhere.
It is, however, not just Zimdef which has been skyjacked by the political elite for purposes of oiling the ZANU-PF machinery as well as funding their personal projects. All State enterprises are teetering on the brink of closure because they have been made to depart from their mandates to become poodles that are at the beck and call of those who wield political power.
None of them are doing well. Nearly all of them are shameless perennial loss makers. Some of them have gone on to accumulate heavy debts that could end up being passed onto the struggling taxpayer. But regardless of their precarious financial situations, they are never short of resources to fund ZANU-PF’s extravagant functions and self-serving projects of their political masters.
Only last week, it was revealed by Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Jonathan Moyo, who is currently clutching at the straws for survival in the wake of the Zimdef scandal, that one of the parastatals spent a fortune through the construction of a tarred road to a farm owned by one of ZANU-PF’s apparatchiks. This is at a time when the country’s major roads are in a deplorable state, with government pleading bankruptcy.
To keep their jobs, executives at State-owned enterprises now know that what guarantees their next pay cheque is no longer performance but their proximity to politicians, and unquestioning loyalty to them. This now extends to local authorities where town clerks would rather please the Minister of Local Government in order to retain their jobs than being accountable to ratepayers.
The inaction we are seeing at the top in the face of stinking cases of corruption involving State-run entities suggests that we now have very few saints in government. But can we continue to entrust the jackals with guarding our chickens?
The saints must stand up and be counted. Breaking this chain requires citizens to revisit the existing reporting structures to enable State enterprises to operate autonomously and begin to contribute to Zimbabwe’s developmental agenda.
We must put in place robust legislation that places these national assets beyond the reach of predatory politicians. Currently, they are operating under Acts of Parliament which makes them vulnerable to the intrusive nature of the political elite. Instead, they must be brought under the Companies’ Act.
The recruitment processes for their boards and top executives must also be transparent and highly competitive so as to bring on board professional men and women who are able to rescue them from the dungeons.
Once all the building blocks have been put in place, the taxpayer must demand their pound of flesh with those found wanting being made to face the music.