Parastatal boards face the chop

via Parastatal boards face the chop | The Herald July 4, 2015 by Felex Share Senior Reporter

Board members of several parastatals face imminent dismissal as Government flexes its muscle to stem corruption through the National Code on Corporate Governance.

This week alone, board members from three parastatals were fired for corruption, gross abuse of financial resources and poor corporate governance.

The code, which came into effect in April, provides a framework for corporate conduct for both the public and private sectors focusing mainly on issues of corruption, corporate disclosure, communication and mechanisms for creating trust between shareholders, boards, management and employees.

Parastatals affected this week are the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ), Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe (TSCZ) and the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (Potraz) whose board members gobbled $249 219 in travel expenses and per diems within nine months.

Corporate governance and legal experts yesterday hailed the enforcement of the code, but said Government should bring finality to the abuse of public funds by prosecuting culprits.

Sources said more parastatal boards were on the firing line as Government moves in to achieve economic targets enshrined in its economic blueprint, Zim-Asset.

“Now that there is a framework with provisions on what is expected of management and board members, ministers will not hesitate to fire offenders. There are more boards with reports of massive looting and they will soon face the music,” said one source.

One source cited the Rural Electrification Agency as one of the entities where there was massive financial indiscipline.

The Potraz board, according to Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister, Supa Mandiwanzira, made unnecessary travels to conferences and meetings, some which did not have anything to do with them.

The board was led by Mr Ishmael Chikwenere, who alone chewed up $90 000 in travel allowances in nine months and at one time last year spent 22 days in South Korea attending a telecommunications conference yet the relevant period was about five days.

On the other hand, Mr Nelson Mawema from the TSCZ and Dr Themba Nyoni from CAAZ were fired for, among other things, failing to control the operations of their entities.

Cooperate governance expert, Mr Canaan Dube, said if implemented by all Government ministries, the Code could bring visible changes that should steer the economy to greater heights.

“This is the way to go and I see a many being shown the door, especially in parastatals,” he said.

“Management and boards in parastatals should ensure viability as they contribute about 40 percent of the GDP. Those who are not competent should make way for the able to assist in the turnaround of the economy. Those diverting public funds to personal use should be jailed.”

Said Harare lawyer, Mr Terrence Hussein: “The Code is ideal but is not enough if culprits are not brought to book. Offenders must be prosecuted. The audits should be done by reputable companies.”

The Code came in the wake of corporate failures in the banking sector over the past decade, while the public sector was hurt by inadequate governance structures.

Legal expert, Mr Norman Mugiya, said only a penal effect would deter would-be offenders.

“The idea of the Code is exceptionally remarkable but it will set a dangerous precedence if the looters go scot free,” he said.

“The effects of their dismissal should be felt and where there is evidence of corruption, one should face jail otherwise people will continue looting in public entities knowing they will go peacefully.”