BY FREEMAN MAKOPA
THE myth that some of Africa’s best business minds are found in Zimbabwe has been disproved at the State-run Industrial Development Corporation of Zimbabwe (IDCZ), which has struggled to find a CEO following the departure of Mike Ndudzo last year.
The hunt began well before Ndudzo left in December 2020.
IDCZ chairperson Charles Msipa was this week unsure when the search would end, having begun a second round of publicity this month.
However, he hinted that IDCZ, one of Zimbabwe’s biggest conglomerates with scope to manufacture over 300 different products, was determined to stretch the period to get the right executive.
“We have done our first round in our bid to appoint a new general manager [The position has been advertised as general manager/ GCEO] and we are yet to find the suitable candidate,” Msipa told businessdigest.
“In the meantime, it’s hard to say when we are going to appoint the new general manager but we have to follow all the necessary procedures. We are currently taking in applications until the end of May when we review them. But in the meantime, we have a capable acting-general-manager who is very experienced and has been doing well in all aspects. We can’t really say there was no one taking care of things,” Msipa noted.
But the IDCZ chairperson has his work cut out.
Government has reaffirmed its desire to transform the 57-year-old conglomerate beyond fertiliser production, car assembling, glass production, real estate development, food processing and other interests to scale up industrial development funding.
Over many years, the IDCZ’s subsidiaries have included Almin Metal Industries, Amtec, Sunway City, Allied Insurance, Zimbabwe Copper Industries, Deven Engineering, Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries, Sable Chemicals, and Zimphos, but these are being reviewed under a privatisation strategy.
In 2019, the government injected ZW$64 million (about US$760 000) to help IDCZ fulfil its industrial funding role.
However, more capacitation and skill has become imperative to build a firm of the stature of its South African peer, IDC South Africa, that has extended over US$30 million in on-lending facilities to the agro-lender, Agribank in the past few years.
It is in finding a CEO with industrial experience and development finance skills that the IDCZ could be finding roadblocks.
“The IDCZ board of directors wishes to recruit a general manager who possesses the drive and breadth of experience to head one of the largest corporations in Zimbabwe in order to maintain the corporation’s competitive position and reputation,” the IDCZ said.
“This key appointment requires a high-calibre innovative individual who is capable of making a full contribution to the present management and future development of the corporation. The applicant should . . . have extensive experience in the management of major industrial investment concerns. Extensive experience in developing finance will be an added advantage,” the IDCZ said in its adverts.
A top industrialist himself as CEO at Schweppes Holdings and former Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president, Msipa knows that the stakes are high.
In October, the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) appealed for a lifeline of up to US$100 million to recapitalise the IDCZ and bolster its capacity to bail out companies.
Sentiment towards re-engineering IDCZ’s operations has been growing with industry pointing out that it has failed to keep pace with emerging trends.
The ZNCC wants the IDCZ to operate along the lines of IDC South Africa to give impetus to ongoing efforts to revive hundreds of firms that have collapsed.
“The IDC should be restructured to make it a development finance institution which supports industry instead of it remaining an investment vehicle as it is now,” the ZNCC said.
“There is a need to capacitate IDC by US$100 million, which is equal to the minimum capital requirements for large indigenous commercial banks and all foreign banks,” it said.
The chamber is convinced that once this is accomplished, the IDCZ will be well-placed to intervene with cheaper funding to the country’s industries.
Up to US$2 billion is required to power manufacturing sector firms to produce at full throttle.