21 March 2014

Zimbabwe: Zimind Editorial - Apply the Same Rules

editorial

FINANCE minister Patrick Chinamasa this week came up with a plethora of measures to deal with the situation at parastatals, public enterprises and local authorities after recent media revelations that bosses of these entities were paying themselves exorbitant salaries and getting extortionate benefits and allowances.

Part of the new procedures include that as a principle, the remuneration for CEOs of state enterprises and heads of local authorities should be based on the performance of the economy; the organisation's capacity to pay; overall performance of the incumbent; the need to recognise specialist skills; levels of responsibility, that is job size determined by accountability, problem-solving demands and know-how, and the need to comply with the requirement that the entity's total employment costs should constitute at most 30% of the budgeted expenditure while 70% goes towards service delivery, among other things.

Those who violate the remuneration framework will be sanctioned.

Without a doubt, Chinamasa's measures, despite their rough edges, are useful even though this is what should have been done a long time ago before public entities were bled to paralysis or death through chronic mismanagement and plunder.

However, it must not end there. The same measures or their variation must be extended to government itself, particularly the executive. President Robert Mugabe, ministers and public servants must be rewarded according to their performance and delivery.

The practice of buying Mugabe, ministers and senior civil servants expensive and exclusive cars, while funding their endless travel trips abroad and giving them allowances when they are largely failing to do their jobs is awful and irresponsible.

Every now and then, cabinet ministers are bought new top-of-the-range vehicles even when the economy is deteriorating largely because of their incompetence and corruption. This is unacceptable because public funds must not be used to reward ineptitude and failure.

The current crop of ministers simply don't deserve the rewards they are getting.

So there must now be rules of remunerating ministers. They must never get what they don't deserve from a performance point of view. Some ministers, who have big houses and live luxurious lifestyles even if they can't justify their wealth given their meagre salaries, actually don't deserve to be paid because they are either lazy, incompetent or just corrupt. These issues must be taken seriously because we are talking about taxpayers' money here.

That is why in civilised countries like Singapore, actually a city-state, remuneration of ministers depends on ministerial grades. Each minister's pay package and benefits is made up of fixed and variable components determined by their individual and economic performance.

There is a committee appointed to review politicians' remuneration. What they get is determined by their performances and how the economy and macro-economic fundamentals are doing.

We need such key performance indicators for ministers in Zimbabwe and a management framework such as the balanced scorecard. The habit of rewarding failure, lazy officials or thieves should be banished to the past.

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