via A nation of thieves | The Zimbabwean 12.02.14
I am hardly surprised at the rot that is being unearthed in state enterprises where individuals like our infamous Charamba et al got paid a minimum of $8,000 for attending a board meeting. Compare this to civil servants are fighting for a minimum monthly wage of $540 or $6, 480 per annum!
I have said these things before, that Zanu (PF) has no institutional management capacity. This is made worse by the patronage system that has been festering unabated over the last 34 years – particularly within the 75 state enterprises.
In any country where money is a god, you are bound to get unprecedented corruption as people seek to show off their wealth. Others do all they can to hide it. It is fertile ground for incompetence, profiteering and deterioration in business ethics.
Our fundamental problem is the lack of value-driven leadership from the top. The President of Zimbabwe has failed us. The importance of governance for companies, whether private or state-owned, has been underscored by high-profile corruption scandals, monumental waste of resources and high debt levels that have resulted in a regressing economy. Our government has played the largest role in under-developing Zimbabwe.
Despite the noble intent behind the creation of state enterprises they are often less productive than companies in the private sector. All too often they have been used as places of patronage for ruling parties. In Zimbabwe, state enterprises have functioned like ruling party subsidiaries which divert public resources to the benefit of Zanu (PF) political elite and their cronies.
This unproductive misuse of state enterprises has clogged up resources, savings and capacity from both the public and the private sector. Resources are channelled away from critical priority areas at the expense of citizens.
The need to continually find resources to prop up failing state enterprises for political reasons, has worsened our economic crisis. Because of the recent disclosure of mismanagement and abuse of public funds within state enterprises, much attention needs to be paid to the composition of the boards – the independence of board members, board structures, incentives and performance evaluations. This has been sorely lacking.
The interesting thing is that there seems to be no call to fire the directors who have presided over this disaster. Cosmetic changes are being made – but these are not fundamental structural changes.
The case of PSMAS is a clear example where directors have not been fired or resigned and continue to blame the CEO – claiming that they were not aware of what was happening. This is ridiculous.
Directors are paid to exercise due care and to be informed of what is going on. None of them are taking responsibility and in my opinion, they should not only be fired but must repay the fees they received because they did not provide the services for which they were paid. This is corporate fraud.
This of course mirrors our political behaviour, where ministers never take responsibility and continue to blame the West and “sanctions” for our problems. I also question the auditors of these enterprises.
I was recently told that auditors report to directors of the board, and therein lies the problem. Since their responsibility only stops there, directors have been complicit in sweeping the corruption under the carpet.
We are faced with systemic institutional failure because of political incompetence and lack of accountability on the broad economy. This continues to arrest our development as we are unable to efficiently use or account for scarce resources.
I think we are going to be shocked with bigger corruption news, especially in the mining sector where the government has not been accountable for many years. In my opinion nearly everyone in politics has been involved in some deal or other in order to keep up appearances and pretend that they have money. We have seen some houses being built in Harare where one wonders where the money is coming from in such a depressed economic environment.
Zanu (PF) must take full responsibility. They have presided over a rotten patronage system where corruption is acceptable. They cannot now claim to be champions of the poor. This is nothing but a scam to create the perception that indeed they care about the plight of Zimbabweans; they don’t! As long as they are making money, they will fight to stay in power.
I just hope that come 2018 Zimbabweans won’t forget and be duped again into voting in a political party that has destroyed the future of millions of people through sheer greed. The people must come first! –Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org