The Herald (Harare)

23 January 2014

Zimbabwe: Monster Salaries - Buck Should Stop Somewhere

Photo: Nehanda Radio
PSMAS salaries.

editorial

The revelation that a handful of PSMAS bosses are chewing up US$1 million in monthly salaries is the latest expose of what can and should be equated to institutionalised plunder in Government-linked enterprises.

The magnitude of the money paid out to PSMAS bosses makes the outrageous US$40 000 monthly salary that Happsion Muchechetere was milking from ZBC look like loose change.

What is striking is that the chief executive of PSMAS, Mr Cuthbert Dube, was also the chair of the ZBC board.

Recently we saw the board of the Minerals Mining Company of Zimbabwe and the board and management of Marange Resources sent packing for, among other reported reasons, earning huge perks while failing to leverage the companies they were in charge of to contribute more meaningfully to the national economy.

In short, people are paying themselves for failing to prove their individual and collective worth to the nation.

It is clear that the rot is deeply embedded in the parastatals and State-owned enterprises sector.

How many more culprits, even as we write, are increasing their salaries as much as they can before they are exposed?

There are unfavourable comparisons between private and public sector showing that top-level management in the former is earning far much less than their counterparts in Government-linked enterprises.

We believe that shareholder involvement through effective board oversight has kept the private sector within the confines of good corporate governance.

The same cannot be said for public enterprises where some all-powerful CEOs actually seem to control their boards.

Private enterprises are fully commercial ventures led by people who appreciate that their job security lies in the bottom line.

But in some Government-linked enterprises there is a culture of "leaders" who are out to make sure that the shareholder, who is ultimately the ordinary citizen, does not matter.

As we appeal to these "chiefs" to rectify their ways before exposure, we also demand that Government enforces good corporate governance in these enterprises.

Further, as we have said before, it is time an example was made of some people. They should not just be fired; they must be prosecuted and efforts made to recover the funds.

Simply firing them is not enough. It creates the impression that you can rob the bank and ride into the sunset like an all-conquering cowboy.

Government has previously gazetted policies limiting salaries at public enterprises to US$5 000 a month.

What is Government doing to enforce this?

There must be some form of punishment for people who steal our present and our future from us, because their actions are really no different to treason.

Zimbabweans need to see political will going beyond talk to real action that does not spare self-serving parasites regardless of who they are.

We have previously advocated performance-based contracts for everyone in what is a remotely public office.

Timely release of audited results should not be optional but a firm requirement.

The message should be sent out loud and clear.

The buck has to stop somewhere!

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