Zimbabwe: Stop the Rot At Parastatals


Zimbabwe’s parastatals have become synonymous with looting and corruption.

The struggling state-owned enterprises have become feeding troughs for corrupt ministers and other senior government officials who turn to them whenever they are broke.

It is now commonly understood that these officials draw large sums of money from their coffers, leaving the taxpayers to cover the gaps.

Bootlicking managers are more than happy to bail out these officials and they sometimes go as far as buying them top-of-the-range vehicles.

They also fund their political campaigns and expensive trips abroad.

Board members, who should be at the forefront of enforcing good corporate governance, have become part of the problem. They also fleece the underperforming companies through inflated fees, fuel and other allowances.

The former minister of State Enterprises and Parastatals, Gorden Moyo tried without success to change this culture of looting during the subsistence of the inclusive government.

He proposed that chief executive officers should have performance-based contracts and should adhere to good corporate governance. He left government without any success after facing resistance.

The positive thing now, though, is that Information minister Jonathan Moyo appears to have adopted his cause.

Moyo has taken the lead in addressing the rot at ZBC where CEO Happison Muchechetere is reported to have been earning close to US$40 000 while the rest of the workers are wallowing in poverty.

While Moyo's actions of sending Muchechetere and other officials on forced leave are welcome, these are merely piecemeal measures considering the gigantic problem at hand.

A comprehensive independent audit of all parastatals, that include the Grain Marketing Board, the National Railways of Zimbabwe and Air Zimbabwe, must be carried out urgently.

Those found guilty of looting should be punished.

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