Ministers should share blame

LONDON - In recent weeks, we have, with outrage, learnt of the salaries of chief executives of some of our state enterprises.

Disturbingly, the salaries seem incommensurable with performances of the institutions they run.

ZBC chief executive Happison Muchechetere earns a total of $40 000.

Cuthbert Dube, PSMAS group chief executive, earns a basic monthly salary of $230 000.

Yet PSMAS is saddled with a $38 million debt, in unpaid bills.

ZBC has, perennially, made losses because of, among other reasons, poor programming; has 400 ghost workers on its books and has failed to pay workers.

A lot of anger has naturally been directed at these executives.

It is, however, doubtful these executives would have awarded themselves hefty salaries and packages without approval of those charged with oversight.

This duty of oversight falls on boards.  Boards of companies and public enterprises have a fiduciary duty — the holding and management of assets for the benefit of another.

This entails maintaining financial accountability of the organisation. 

Board members act as trustees of the organisation and must exercise due diligence to oversee that the organisation is well-managed and that its financial situation remains sound.

It is clear the board members of these two organisations failed to perform such functions.

ZBC and PSMAS could just be two of many public enterprises where CEOs enjoy anomalous salaries and the boards have failed to perform the fiduciary function adequately.

Suddenly, the PSMAS board has reportedly slashed Dube’s salary and the President’s Office has demanded contracts of all parastatal executives.

Ministers have oversight on the boards, and therefore also have responsibility on the viability of state enterprises.

In the case of Webster Shamu, the former minister of information, a red flag about the state of affairs at ZBC was raised a long time ago by his permanent secretary.

Shamu did not act. His successor, Jonathan Moyo — credit to him — acted swiftly, dismissing the board and sending Happison Muchechetere on leave.

At PSMAS, Henry Madzorera of the MDC, the then health minister during the coalition government, did not act on the outrageous salaries.

David Parirenyatwa, his successor, has been dithering. He would have to convince us why the PSMAS board in particular, remains in place.

The board’s action to cut Dube’s salary — I would suspect prompted by national outrage rather than the board’s feeble claims it was decided a while ago — cannot cover up, hitherto, its protracted negligence.

A review of the contracts of the parastatal executives could reveal a can of more salary worms.

The boards are indeed culpable. But this does not exculpate ministers responsible for these parastatals, if the executives’ salaries are found to be obscene.

It is a serious indictment on its own, of not just the boards but the individual ministers, that the President’s Office has had to usurp the role of reviewing the salaries.

President Robert Mugabe should stop his habit of “recycling” under-performing ministers.

Little wonder people describe his ministers as “deadwood” because such people no longer have the presence of mind to notice malfeasance or act on it.

Board appointments to public enterprises seem open to patronage and nepotism. Some of the people appointed to these boards are unsuitable. 

Furthermore, it has become a trend that certain persons are appointed to sit on numerous boards.

We suffer from a “recycling” scourge. Mugabe’s “recycling” mentality replicates itself at corporate level as “recycled” ministers also “recycle” same persons in board appointments at state enterprises.

Ironically, Dube was also chairman of the fired ZBC board. 

His profile on the PSMAS website proudly parades him as chairman of no less than 13 boards (most of them private firms and associations though) apart from being president of Zifa.

Now, how can a full-time executive at PSMAS be expected to perform effectively at his organisation and also undertake fiduciary duties sufficiently at the other institutions, in particular, state enterprises?

As is now apparent, PSMAS, ZBC and Zifa are not shining examples of corporate governance.

There are many young men and women, outside the favoured circle, with corporate skills, abreast of new trends in a complex high-tech and business world, who can offer better strategic direction to state enterprises than the hackneyed, old minds.

Comments (9)

After all has been said and done the buck stops at mugabe,period.

bmash - 29 January 2014

right on buddy, u hev hit the nail on its damn head

Charles Hondoyi - 29 January 2014

i think all the CEO in charge of all the parastatals need to be fired, investigated, imprisoned and the keys thrown into the sea. the root cause is the party in gorvenment. i believe if the whole chefs presently running the affairs of this country were not human beings, if they were some property of some sought, we would rather drain all of them into the indian ocean and appoint fresh people who would run the county better. The root cause is the top leadership ...period

disgruntled - 29 January 2014

Cuthbet Dube should repay the money he stole and must be arrested period.He is a bandit carrying a briefcase

mzekezeke - 29 January 2014

LET THEM EAT FOR US, THEY DIED FOR THIS COUNTRY, IT BELONGS TO THEM AND THEIR FAMILIES. SO GERVINYO WHERE ARE YOU ALL THIS ZVICHIITIKA? WE BLAME SANCTIONS? BUSH OR BLAIR?

230000 - 30 January 2014

@mzekezeke your outrage is misplaced. Cashbert Dube did not steal or do anything illegal. He was paid interms of contract. His biggest failing is being insensitive and taking such huge amounts and not delivering leading to psmas getting deeper into debt.

Mutswiri - 31 January 2014

i for sure am a ZPF supporter, but if Mugabe does not remove Shamu, Mpofu, then thats it, no more zpf. the same applies to mdct, gorden moyo and henry Madzorera, they are also the face of corruption. As for Shamu just wait and see what will come out of net one and tel one. OBERT DUMBUGURU shouted at the top of his voice that the airport road will be completed by december 2013, and Mugabe still believes in such a daft? He uses the airoport road on monthly bases and nothing has been done since Obert took over from the equally useless Goche.

reason - 31 January 2014

i for sure am a ZPF supporter, but if Mugabe does not remove Shamu, Mpofu, then thats it, no more zpf. the same applies to mdct, gorden moyo and henry Madzorera, they are also the face of corruption. As for Shamu just wait and see what will come out of net one and tel one. OBERT DUMBUGURU shouted at the top of his voice that the airport road will be completed by december 2013, and Mugabe still believes in such a daft? He uses the airoport road on monthly bases and nothing has been done since Obert took over from the equally useless Goche.

reason - 31 January 2014

The "hackneyed, old minds" are busy making their own hay. Its not that they don't know. Forgive them. Everything else in this part of the World is under pinned by the scourge (vicious cycle) of poverty. It is a society of extremes more than before. Its is place where a majority of its citizenry survive on less than one US dollar a day, but also a niche market for the covetous Merc limos. Just count the odds

Timothy - 1 February 2014

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