BY MELODY CHIKONO
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa says the government is seized with addressing problems facing the country’s loss-making parastatals and public entities.
Speaking at the Chartered Governance and Accountancy Institute in Zimbabwe annual conference in Victoria Falls last week where he was officiating as guest of honour, Mnangagwa said the problem was with the appointment of unqualified people to lead these entities.
He said development was constrained by the fact that people were not pulling in the same direction in terms of public resource management and accountability.
“Almost all of our parastatals and public entities make losses. We do not know why. You should be able to tell us but I think we appoint people to lead the parastatals based on the fact that we used to play football together, we grew up together and so on when these people do not have the right qualifications for these jobs,” Mnangagwa said, referring to accountants.
“We must have competence, which I now know you people have to lead us to the qualities needed to have a certain job.”
This also comes as year in and year out, Auditor-General Mildred Chiri’s reports have pointed to malfeasance in these parastatals that point to deep-seated corruption.
Historically, state enterprises and parastatals (SEPs) used to contribute at least 40% of gross domestic product, but that has drastically declined to around 10%.
Challenges bedeviling the SEPs included non-compliance with good corporate governance practices, under-capitalisation, indebtedness, failure to attract and retain skilled human capital and unsustainable employment costs.
Mnangagwa said the government was determined to ensure that these parastatals become viable by implementing some statutes that have been put in place.
In 2019, the government enacted the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act to provide a legal foundation for oversight and governance of SEPs, including better management of fiscal risk, performance and service delivery, and accountability.
“Personal development is constrained because not everybody pulls in the same direction but with monitoring and, if forensic auditing of our resources is applied, it will help to move forward,” Mnangagwa said.
“We need to develop a new culture where each one of us should be remembered for pointing out government shortfalls rather than hiding corruption.
“Sadly, in the past we have seen corporate governance failures in both private and public institutes, which border on fraud and criminality hence the government has embarked on programmes to strengthen corporate governance and accountability in public resources,” he added.
Zimbabwe has over 107 SEPs cutting across key sectors of the economy.
Last year, the government reviewed the ownership model of SEPs as part of ongoing reforms to make them more effective and improve their performance for the growth of the economy, underscoring the need to strengthen the governance and administrative frameworks of SEPs to ensure they contribute to the growth of the economy.
The Chartered Governance and Accountancy Institute in Zimbabwe has embarked on public sector accountancy capacity building having in place a working memorandum with the Zimbabwe Republic Police to train the police force in forensic accounting, auditing and cyber security.