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‘Directors need to be adaptive’

RECENTLY, the Institute of Corporate Directors Zimbabwe (ICDZ) held its inaugural Tone at the Top Leadership Conference in Kariba running under the theme   “Innovate, Engage and Empower”. Our senior business reporter Melody Chikono caught up with ICDZ chief operations officer (COO) Proctor Nyemba (PN), who raised concerns over some board appointments in various organisations, which he said were based on nepotism and were gender insensitive. Below are the experts of the interview:

MC: What has made you hold this convention?

PN: We have seen existing gaps in leadership skills both in private and public sectors. We thought it would be good for people to meet and share ideas on how to run companies.

MC: What are the key areas lacking in leadership?

PN: In Zimbabwe, when you talk about corporate governance, it is all talk and no implementation. Some are just copying and pasting but what we need for us to survive in this economy is to be practical. This convention is trying to educate corporate directors on how to lead by example in terms of corporate governance practice.  Another angle that we are coming with is for government to listen to what business people are saying so that they compare with what they have in line with their vision to see whether it is working or not. If it is not working, they may need to implement what the private sector or corporate directors are suggesting for the government to grow the economy in terms of leadership, governance as well as putting internal controls to the economy.


           Fact file: Proctor Nyemba

  • Is a certified professional director specialising in governance, strategy, risk, board effectiveness, resources and behaviour;
  •  Is a certified board advisor, keynote speaker, writer and lecturer;
  •  Has  over 20 years of experience; and
  •  Holds a PhD in Applied Forensic Auditing & Forensic Accounting Forensic Investigation & Fraud Examination
  •  Holds a MSc Forensic Accounting & Fraud Examination-(MsFAFE) and several other qualifications.

MC: The convention is under the theme “Innovate, Engage and Empower”! Why this theme?

PN: With the situation in the country, we need to give hope to the people. Since we are here, we know there are challenges. But we need to give hope to the nation and make sure we build our country as directors.

MC: What are some of the challenges faced by co-operate directors?

PN: Some are too pompous while some lack knowledge. But things are changing but some of the directors hold certificates dating back to 1980. We are not saying its wrong but we need to coach them on what we call continuous professional education so that they can match with the prevailing climate. I can give you an example; we used the Nokia 3310 phone in 2000, however, it no longer exists. We now have the latest versions. That is how knowledge is shifting. People need to learn. That is the purpose of ICDZ to give awareness. The aim is that they correct themselves.

MC: How adaptable are the directors?

PN: This is a process which cannot happen overnight. As ICDZ, we are not only looking at corporate directors, we are also looking at it from the board level coming to the CEO and others, who run the organisation. We have a vision targeting 2030 that aims to ensure corporate directors have adequate knowledge in what they do.

MC: What efforts are you putting in place to curb corruption in organisations?

PN: We have noticed that corruption has become rampant contributing highly to the collapse of the economy. It has to do with gaps in corporate governance in organisations. But we need to give hope that is why we are saying let us put internal controls and systems in place in the organisations. Right now our economy has loopholes, more like a house in a location where it has a durawall and a gate on the front but nothing at the back.

At the end of the day, any person who commits corruption cannot be prosecuted because the technicalities on how the crime has been committed versus our laws do not tally. That’s why we are engaging government to ensure that internal controls are tightened and cooperate governance becomes the answer.

MC:  So what are the loopholes?

PN: Some of the terms used by the media do not exist in our laws. Look at how the cyber security has been tightened. Unfortunately, the laws are being upgraded but more cyber-crime is being committed. However, there are technicalities of some of these people to be acquitted.  There is a huge gap in terms of legislation and this has seen people getting away with white collar crimes. We need to put internal controls that educate the board to be wary of corruption.

MC: What are other initiatives that you are working on?

PN:  We have been having corporate directors’ awards as a way to motivate corporate directors in the companies. We are putting three categories of people who are corporate directors. We have the under 40, for young men and women. We also have the women group, women corporate directors. As corporate directors, we are trying to ensure that we train and equip them to sit on corporate boards. We are also trying to focus of the board chairperson going down to senior management in organisations, to make sure we train them on leadership.

Right now we a seeing calls coming in from people saying they are looking for positions to sit as board chairperson. As ICDZ, we are trying to avoid issues to do with sexual harassment at board level. Most women are being taken as people to write minutes in board meetings. Most of them have been sexually harassed. There are also other women who have been sexually harassing men. So we are trying to come up with documents to educate board members and corporate directors on how to handle these issues.

MC: What are the gender gaps in the cooperate sectors.

PN: There has been a huge gap with lesser women sitting on boards. We have noticed that if we have more women on boards, they are accountants, lawyers and engineers. Other women from other sectors are not sitting on boards. Those are the gaps that we are trying to cover as ICDZ to ensure that women from all sectors get a chance to sit on boards not to be just middle managers. There is a huge gap. There is also a knowledge gap on how to sit on boards, amongst women. We want to ensure that they have this knowledge and that is why we now have the Women Corporate Directors Network Forum. We are also looking for women who are still in school so that in line with our vision 2030, they will be directors in the next five years.

MC: Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

PN: We want to ensure that by such a time, all local authorities and any person working there must be well trained and have a qualification. The reason today there have been many issues coming up from these local authorities, is that most of these people are coming from the streets and go sit on boards.

How do you expect them to sit in boards and run a US$1 billion project? So we want to equip them with the right skills.

We want to motivate young people in schools to become knowledgeable directors. As of now many people are sitting on boards through nepotism. When we talk about corporate governance, they are unable to make meaningful contributions. That is what we are seeking to address.

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