'Vet key parastatal appointees'

HARARE - Appointment of board members to State-owned enterprises must be subjected to vetting by Parliament to avoid nepotism and incompetence, National Assembly speaker Jacob Mudenda said.

Curiously, his remarks come on the back of an outrage over the appointment of President Robert Mugabe’s son-in-law, Simba Chikore, as chief operations officer of national airline, Air Zimbabwe.

Chikore is married to Mugabe’s only daughter, Bona.

Mudenda said Zimbabwe had to take a cue from neighbouring South Africa (SA) and extensively vet all who sit on parastatal boards.

Despite countless bailouts by government, almost all State enterprises continue to trade in the red.

“We just hear that there have been board announcements, with the same old names. They should be vetted by Parliament like they do in South Africa. This way, we will reduce our exposure to perennial losses,” Mudenda said at a pre-budget seminar held in the capital this week.

He said leaving the mandate of board appointments to respective ministries had proved ineffective, given that most parastatals were “performing dismally”.

“We have explored that route before and we know how it ends. Why not try to do things the South African way. Besides, do we even need as many board members in certain boards?” Mudenda queried.

According to Auditor-General Midred Chiri, Zimbabwe has over 63 parastatals and most need urgent restructuring.

The State enterprises have come under fire for appointing kith and kin to key positions.

However, a Transparency International Zimbabwe report has noted that it is not unusual in the country to have key positions in State institutions awarded to unqualified people related to local politicians.

Most parastatals have since forced Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa to tighten conditions under which they access money from Treasury because of their overreliance on government bail-outs.

In his 2016, Mid-Term Fiscal review statement, Chinamasa stated that all government bail-outs to State enterprises were to be suspended, unless supported by approved specific and measurable recovery plans in line with Remuneration Framework and Public Corporate Governance Law.

Comments (1)

SA have a vibrant parliamentary democracy, a free press and a critical mass of voices (opposition, civic society, business) with vested interest to keep the government on their toes. In Zimbabwe you have a constitutional democracy on paper and the person charged with upholding it has been allowed to behave like an absolute monarch. So what you Mudenda are advocating for will not wash because a great number of you and your relatives and friends will lose their jobs in a meritocracy or when there is scrutiny.

Galore - 17 October 2016

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