via Zim’s pervasive culture of rewarding failure – Newsday October 22, 2015
I was not surprised at all to read that the forensic report on Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) has earthed serious corporate misgovernance (to put it lightly) with regard to the ridiculous payments for board members where Information secretary and Presidential spokesperson George Charamba allegedly received $228 000 over a period for being a board member.
Guest Column by Vince Musewe
Now if we assume that the average employee received a salary of $500 per month, which is a mere $6 000 per annum, this would mean that someone like Charamba was paid almost 40 years’ equivalent of an average employee’s salary for not doing much except attending board meetings while he has a full-time job in government. That is lifetime earnings for an average employee. I do not think that is ethical and it actually reflects sheer greed and an exaggerated value of his contribution to the PSMAS board. Of course, he is not the only one; I won’t even talk about Cuthbert Dube’s salary and fees.
We can then multiply this naked fraud by 82 State enterprises over 35 years and one can begin to imagine the magnitude of the monumental theft by Zanu PF and its cronies over the last 35 years. That is the fundamental challenge we are facing. We have a patronage system in virtually all State institutions which rewards failure and continues to suck our national resources dry while we plead poverty and seek help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
We can then look further at our ministries and imagine what damage has been done to the economy despite their failure to deliver because every sector from education, health, energy, transport, defence, industry, mining to agriculture is in the doldrums because of sheer mismanagement, theft and patronage. This is what I call the looting machine.
In my opinion, there is absolutely no way we can even begin to talk about economic recovery as long as we have this culture of non-accountability, non-delivery, entitlement and toxic patronage. Borrowing more money to pour into a system that is not working is sheer madness. Unless we have a drastic change of direction soon, our country is likely to remain highly indebted and we shall be slaves to the IMF for ages to some.
I am sure that when we take over this government in 2018, we shall be shocked at the extent of the graft which has permeated every sector of our economy. The only way we can stop the rot is by creating a totally new system in Zimbabwe –a new paradigm of leadership and institutional accountability. I am afraid, however, that this is not going to happen in the short term as long as Zanu PF remains in charge of government.
I have heard horrendous stories of how directors in our State enterprises are milking the system where some have as much as five children whose fees are being paid for by the company while they change luxury cars like it’s nobody’s business. All this while they are not adding any value at all and are laying off workers. This has to stop.
You see the problem is with our political system and leadership which has truly lost the plot. That is why there is so much resistance to any political change because this would not only expose the graft within this government, but would also wrest control of the gravy train from this regime.To move from a predatory state to a developmental state in Zimbabwe is always going to be difficult.
The sad reality is that this graft does not only exist at State level, but even within the private sector where we have CEOs who have been doing the same job for 20 years and continue to have ridiculous perks even when their companies are not doing well.
We need to reinvent our country and also create a totally new culture of work ethic.
I want to suggest that we focus on the key success factors which I think will unleash our rebirth as a nation.
These include the obvious need for continuous leadership renewal and accountability both in the public and private sector; the rule of law and the protection of private property to allow us to get long-term equity investors back into Zimbabwe; and institutional renewal to get rid of the rot and toxic patronage systems. We must see focus on the work ethic and delivery.
Also critical is the promotion of economic freedom and inclusivity so that we can all live up to our full potential. Rapid agriculture revival and industrialisation is essential in order to reposition our economy in Africa while we need to promote human capital preservation and development so that we may fully utilise and employ our human resource assets which remain our competitive advantage.
In addition to the above, the effective and efficient management of our natural resources in order to maximise and spread the benefits is crucial for us to achieve equity. Added to this must be rapid infrastructure rehabilitation and development to improve the quality of life of Zimbabweans and attract investors. Above all, we need to see sincere citizen empowerment, food security and poverty alleviation.
If we do not do the above, we shall continue to operate under the bondage of a Zanu PF looting machine which knows no bounds and our country will never unchain itself from this predatory cabal.
Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You may contact him on email@example.com