PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe opened Parliament yesterday, speaking eloquently about the need for parastatal reforms and the need for good corporate governance in State enterprises.
Source: Mugabe must walk the talk on parastatal reform – NewsDay Zimbabwe October 6, 2016
Comment: NewsDay Editor
Mugabe also said this session of Parliament will look at the Public Sector Procurement Amendment Bill.
However, most Zimbabweans would be excused for feeling a sense of déjà vu — that they have been here before and while this sounds noble, even the most optimistic would not expect anything new.
Zimbabwe’s tendering system is probably the most corrupt sector and the beneficiaries of some of the most questionable tenders have connections to the First Family.
For example, businessman Wicknell Chivayo won a Zesa tender in the murkiest of circumstances, with the winning bidder overlooked for him.
However, it has been revealed that Chivayo neither had the capacity nor the wherewithal to carry out the project and he sub-contracted the company that had originally won the tender.
In the midst of all the controversy, Chivayo unabashedly took and published his pictures with First Lady Grace Mugabe, as if in a show to say nothing was going to happen to him because of his close connections with the President’s wife.
Questions have also been raised about how a company connected to Mugabe’s in-law, Derrick Chikore, won a tender to set up a diesel electricity plant in Dema.
Diesel electricity is far too expensive compared to power imports from neighbouring countries or the hydro and thermal power we produce locally, meaning the extravagant Dema Power Plant is both unnecessary and how the tender was won is questionable.
Examples abound of questionable tenders linked to high-profile politicians, including the alleged purchase of “snow” graders linked to a company owned by Information, Communication and Technology, Postal and Courier Services minister Supa Mandiwanzira a few years ago.
So, when Mugabe speaks about a new public sector procurement law, scepticism is a natural reaction from Zimbabweans, as the beneficiaries are either high-ups or connected to them.
Discerning Zimbabweans are even more sceptical about calls for parastatal reforms, as this is an old subject that Mugabe and his party have either ignored or are unwilling to implement.
As long as parastatals are run by people connected to the establishment and not necessarily the most qualified, then State enterprise reform will remain pie in the sky.
The easiest example is that of Mugabe’s son-in-law, Simba Chikore, who has just been appointed to a lofty post at Air Zimbabwe.
The reality is if, for example, he fails to run the national carrier, no one will have the guts to fire him because of his connections to the First Family.
We are not saying he is not qualified to run the airline, as his qualifications remain a mystery for now, but his appointment reeks of nepotism, patronage and clan-based thinking which will not help the organisation, but will sink it further into crisis.