Zim to reform parastatals

HARARE - Zimbabwe has crafted a new framework for the appointment of board members and chief executives at public enterprises in a move aimed at fighting corruption and improve corporate governance.

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa this week told Parliament that an agent was set up to maintain a database of persons who are suitable to be appointed to State enterprise boards.

“… In terms of the new rules, there is an agency which should maintain a database of persons who are suitable to be appointed to such boards.  Persons to be appointed to the boards should possess relevant skills aptitudes and experience,” he said.

“I have no doubt in my mind that these safeguards will enable ministers to appoint members of boards who are qualified and skilled to perform the tasks demanded by the institutions,” Mnangagwa said, amid indications that State-owned companies remain in the red after recording cumulative losses and net liabilities are in excess of $1 billion in the period to December 2015.

The Zanu PF’s strongman said the corporate governance and delivery spoken to by the new rules were in line with international best practices.

“The agency will play an important role in the appointment of members of boards and ensure that corporate governance standards are adhered to at all times,” he said.

This comes as National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda recently raised the issue at a recent budget consultative meeting, pointing out that State enterprise boards needed to be vetted by Parliament.

The speaker said Zimbabwe had to take a cue from neighbouring South Africa, and extensively vet all who sit on parastatal boards.

He said leaving the mandate of board appointments to respective ministries had proved ineffective, given most parastatals — which used to make up 60 percent of the economy — were “performing dismally”.

Zimbabwe has over 63 parastatals and according to Auditor-General Midred Chiri, most are in need of restructuring.
State-owned enterprises have come under fire for “strange” appointments to boards with minister’s children, wives and relatives making up most of the members who sit on boards.

Mudenda’s remarks come after President Robert Mugabe’s son-in-law Simba Chikore was recently appointed as chief operating officer of the country’s struggling national airline, Air Zimbabwe, despite questionable credentials and an unclear professional history.

Most parastatals — which mostly rely on Treasury disbursements for survival — have since forced Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa to tighten conditions under which they access money from Treasury.

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