Chartered Secretaries discuss ‘managing in turbulence’

MANAGING in an Age of Turbulence was the theme of this year’s Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators in Zimbabwe (Icsaz) annual conference held at the Troutbeck Resort in Nyanga from September 28 to 30.

The conference, attended by more than 200 delegates, opened with a keynote address by Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs minister Eric Matinenga, who called on chartered secretaries to steer the country out of turbulence and build a stronger Zimbabwe.

He said this could only be done if all stakeholders are genuinely inclusive, transparent and accountable.

Welcoming delegates to the conference, Icsaz president Pious Manamike called on them to use the conference as an opportunity to share ideas and come up with solutions for moving forward in an “age of turbulence”.

Other speakers at the conference were Delta Corporation Global brands manager Rumbidzai Dzimba, Mortgage Banking School of Southern Africa chief executive Samson Ruturi, former National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board chief executive David Chapfika, Paynet Zimbabwe chief executive David Kuwana, Twenty Third Century Systems chief operating officer Alex Marufu and business consultant Slava Grace Chella.

The presenters addressed various aspects of ‘Managing in a Turbulent Environment’ and other issues affecting businesses and the entire economy.

Delegates had the opportunity not only to listen to presentations and ask questions but to interact with each other and share ideas on the golf course, tennis courts and volleyball field.

Some participants opted for a safari tour, while others climbed Mount Inyangani with some reaching its peak — the highest point in Zimbabwe.

The conference ended with a formal banquet at which the Chartered Secretary of the Year award winner was announced. It went to Fidelity Life Assurance managing director Simon Chapereka.

‘Big man governments’ stifle initiative, transparency’

CONSTITUTIONAL and Parliamentary Affairs minister Eric Matinenga has said “big man governments” stifle initiative and transparency and generally do not work for the benefit of the people.

Presenting the keynote address at the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators in Zimbabwe (Icsaz) annual conference in Nyanga, Advocate Matinenga said a big man government is one where power is concentrated in an executive president.

He said when the office of prime minister was abolished in 1987 and an executive presidency created, Zimbabwe, like most newly independent African countries, chose the route of concentrating power in the executive presidency.

“The pre-occupation with power and control with the attendant patronage led to the establishment of what has become known as (big man governments) in Africa,” Matinenga  said.

“There has been a general realisation and an acceptance in Africa and other countries in turbulence that big man governments do not work to the benefit of the generality of the people. They stifle initiative and transparency. They stifle business.”

He said it is now accepted at different levels that the way out of the turbulence is to introduce a new constitution. This is the main reason Zimbabwe is writing a new constitution.

The Copac draft constitution, he said, seeks to address critical issues of leadership, inclusivity and human rights.

The draft constitution does not protect same sex relationships, as has been alleged.

“I want to debunk the myth that this draft constitution protects same-sex marriages. This could not be further from the truth. Article 4.35 only protects a marriage of persons of the opposite sex,” he said.

Matinenga said there had been disputed elections since 2000. Business has been on the decline from December 1997 until its virtual collapse in 2007 and 2008.

“There was  a huge expectation at the inception of the inclusive government in February 2009. Whilst the economy has stabilised, there has been painfully little growth. Zimbabwe has never been genuinely inclusive. The inclusivity we see today is dictated by political considerations – considerations of power and control.

There is no common value system,” he said.

Those in power thought they were entitled to that power and destined to rule, he said.

“Because they are entitled to rule, they are immune to the numerous transgressions they have committed on the cowed population. We demand impunity as a right. It is always the other guy who is wrong not me. It is the other guy who has destroyed my economy – not me,” Matinenga said.

He called on chartered secretaries to manage the country out of turbulence and build a stronger Zimbabwe.

This could only be done if all stakeholders are genuinely inclusive, transparent and accountable, he stressed.

Banking sector crises cripple economies, destabilise govts

BANKING sector crises have crippled economies, destabilised governments and worsened poverty, business consultant Slava Grace Chella told delegates at the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators in Zimbabwe (Icsaz) annual conference held in Nyanga recently.

Chella said a country cannot have a strong and vibrant stock market without a strong commercial banking sector, and, because of their importance, the governance of banks assumes a central role.
She emphasised the importance of strengthening the ability of private investors to exert control over banks rather than relying excessively on government regulations.

“Banks are firms, they have shareholders, debt holders, boards of directors, competitors and so on,” Chella said, adding that while banks are important, that alone did not mean a separate analysis of the governance of banks was needed.

When banks efficiently mobilise and allocate funds they lower the cost of capital to firms, boosts capital formation and stimulate productivity growth, she said.

Chella cited weak governance of banks as a reason for poor economic performance, saying the effect banking crises had on economies dramatically demonstrated the enormous consequences of poor governance of banks.

When bank insiders exploit the bank for their own purposes, the likelihood of bank failures is increased thereby curtailing corporate finance and economic development.

Chella said poor corporate governance has been identified as one of the major factors in virtually all known instances of bank distress. This occured against the backdrop of a code of corporate governance for organisations.

Referring to the Jafaru Jimoh study carried out this year in Nigeria, Chella said one of the major challenges of corporate governance is the ineffectiveness of audit committees and shareholder activities. Fraud was the biggest single cause of bank failures in Nigeria, she said.

“If bank managers enjoy enormous discretion to act in their own interests rather than in the interests of shareholders and debt holders, then the banks will be correspondingly less likely to allocate society’s savings efficiently and exert sound governance over firms,” she said.
“The role of competitive financial sectors in Africa is crucial for economic development, particularly in light of evidence of positive relationship between finance and growth.”

Chella said competition in the financial services sector in Africa has important implications especially for enhancing productive efficiency, financial stability and effective regulation and supervision.

“There is a need for urgent intervention by the policy makers to force banks to become responsible corporate citizens and to restore the sanity that is due to the sector.”

Chella added that the media is awash with stories about bank crises, with headlines such as “Another bank collapses’” and “Corporate paedophiles on the prowl”, “Enough is enough of these types of headlines,” she said.