Icsaz conference — a game changer

Melody Chikono

The recently held annual conference for the Institute of Secretaries and Administrators Zimbabwe (Icsaz) was a game changer as it unpacked critical issues and the numerous roles that professionals can play in promoting economic growth.

The conference, held in Victoria falls, ran under the theme Chartered Secretaries Influencing Economic Success.

Graced by various key presenters, the conference resolved that corporate governance professionals should not be spectators in the economic turbulence but rather play an active role in influencing the country’s economic turnaround.

Key issues discussed included finding solutions to the economic turmoil centred on the transnational stabilisation programme, currency, ethics and digitisation.

The delegates deliberated mostly on how to adjust their professional standards and upgrade themselves to match the prevailing environment while remaining professional.

Icsaz president Letitia Gaga and chief executive Lovemore Gomera explained that the economy’s performance fell short of people’s expectations largely due to technological development of the fourth industrial revolution, changing international co-operation and shifting domestic politics, which have left large parts of society feeling disillusioned.

Their key message was that chartered secretaries were at the helm of driving economic growth. Their starting point would be bringing about change in their organisations and ultimately amounting to large components that drive the economy.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe deputy governor Jesimen Chipika addressed the chartered secretaries’ concerns that stemmed from economic turbulence and those related to currency, defending government efforts as laid out through the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) .

Chipika told the delegates that the TSP, which is a two-year programme, seeks to lay the foundation for subsequent five-year plans, adding that the basic problem when it came to the worsening foreign exchange rate was one of supply and demand.

“We need higher productivity in all sectors. We need more exports,” she said, adding that Zimbabwe lacked the financial support that other countries had from international financial institutions,” she said.

On cash shortages, Chipika said the central bank intended to provide banks with more cash but would do so only gradually, and in exchange for RTGS balances in the banks to minimise inflationary effects.

Although cash was still needed for some small transactions, she pointed out some of those queuing at banks for cash were not doing so because of real need but for speculative purposes.

Meanwhile, Dandemutande chief executive Never Ncube was declared Chartered Secretary of the Year while Agribank company secretary Lovemore Rwazemba was the runner-up at the conference.

Reading the citation before presenting him with the accolade, Gomera said Ncube, who took over the reins of the newly restructured Dandemutande last year in a VUCA environment, had displayed the leadership qualities of courage; determination and excellence, achieving many milestones which helped spur business growth.

This business growth had included the reintroduction of Utande as a business unit focussed on meeting connectivity demands in the small to medium enterprise (SME) and consumer sectors.

As a service to customers and part of his focus on customer service excellence, he oversaw the reorganisation of customer support into a three-tier customer support centre and introduced convenient hardware purchase options and a customer self-service portal, Gomera said.
Despite the challenging economic conditions, Dandemutande had registered impressive growth.

Some key initiatives that contributed to this growth included a partnership with Yahsat, a United Arab Emirates VSAT company, that had allowed Utande to offer connectivity to under-served communities throughout Zimbabwe.

Reading the runner-up citation, Gomera said that Rwazemba was an accomplished financial and management executive. Prior to joining Agribank, which at the time he joined was the Agricultural Finance Corporation, Rwazemba worked for the Department of Taxes (now Zimra).